Herbal Medicine Use among Pregnant Women in Makueni County, Kenya
Muia, Philip Mbithi
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The use of herbal medicine is becoming increasingly popular worldwide with statistics showing 65% to 80% of the world’s population using herbal medicines. In Kenya, more than two thirds of the Kenyan population is using herbal medicines for their essential health care needs. A cross-sectional survey was conducted on 384 purposively selected pregnant women between July and September 2015. The main objective of the study was to establish the patterns of herbal medicines use during pregnancy in Makueni Sub County. Specifically, the study aimed to establish the extend of herbal medicines use during pregnancy in Makueni Sub County; to establish the factors that influence use of herbal medicines during pregnancy; to describe the reasons for use of herbal medicines during pregnancy in Makueni sub county and to document some of the perceived adverse effects related to herbal medicines use during pregnancy. Quantitative data was collected using a self-administered questionnaire while qualitative data was collected using key informant interviews and focus group discussions. Quantitative data was analyzed using SPSS version 21. Logistic regression and Odds Ratio (OR) were used to establish strength of the associations of variables while qualitative data was analyzed using NVivo. The study revealed that 30.5% of women had used herbal medicines during pregnancy. Level of education, socioeconomic status and age were associated with herbal medicines use during pregnancy. It was found that women used herbal medicine during pregnancy to manage nausea/ vomiting, cough related ailments, prepare uterus for labour among others. Mothers in law, herbalists and traditional birth attendants were key recommenders. Diarrhea and abdominal discomforts/ pains were highlighted as the main undesired effects resulting from use of herbal medicines. Approximately a third of the women use herbal medicines during pregnancy for varied reasons. From this report, it is recommended that rigorous health education against indiscriminate use of herbal medicines is needed to alleviate any danger that could be posed to the mother and the feotus by unknown chemical constituents in the herbal medications.