This study investigates why postpartum women cannot or will not receive postpartum consultations at the maternity ward in Sokoura, Côte d’Ivoire. It aims to present the sociocultural, economic, infrastructural and organisational factors limiting new mothers’ access to postpartum care and to suggest ways to encourage them to seek out such care. A qualitative approach was adopted and data was collected from individual interviews with new mothers and midwives. The results have elucidated the factors hindering postpartum consultations at the maternity ward in Sokoura and the broader sociological context in which they need to be assessed. The relevant factors are deficient knowledge about the post-partum period, new mothers’ professional obligations, their spouses’ limited financial means, the distance of the maternity ward, unfavourable transport conditions, tensions between new mothers and midwives, and inadequate organisation and management of the postpartum consultation services at the maternity ward. These obstacles to postpartum care can be broadly categorised as insufficient education, scarce social support and unfavourable environmental and medical conditions. To remedy these issues, it is necessary to foster community action targeting new mothers and their spouses, to develop midwives’ cross-cultural skills, notably their capacity for anthropological observation, and to involve public authorities in the changes.
Key words: Postpartum women, accessibility, postpartum consultations, obstacles, social change, maternal and neonatal health.
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