Publications Publication - Safe birth in cultural safety in southern Mexico: a pragmatic non-inferiority cluster-randomised controlled trial

Une publication de Ivan Sarmiento (McGill University) et al.  BMC Pregnancy Childbirth 22, 43 (2022). En open access grâce au soutien du RRSPQ (Concours de soutien à la publication 2021-2022).

Auteur.e.s: Iván Sarmiento, Sergio Paredes-Solís, Abraham de Jesús García, Nadia Maciel Paulino, Felipe René Serrano de los Santos, José Legorreta-Soberanis, Germán Zuluaga, Anne Cockcroft & Neil Andersson 

Résumé des auteur.e.s - Authors' abstract


Available research on the contribution of traditional midwifery to safe motherhood focuses on retraining and redefining traditional midwives, assuming cultural prominence of Western ways. Our objective was to test if supporting traditional midwives on their own terms increases cultural safety (respect of Indigenous traditions) without worsening maternal health outcomes.


Pragmatic parallel-group cluster-randomised controlled non-inferiority trial in four municipalities in Guerrero State, southern Mexico, with Nahua, Na savi, Me’phaa and Nancue ñomndaa Indigenous groups. The study included all pregnant women in 80 communities and 30 traditional midwives in 40 intervention communities. Between July 2015 and April 2017, traditional midwives and their apprentices received a monthly stipend and support from a trained intercultural broker, and local official health personnel attended a workshop for improving attitudes towards traditional midwifery. Forty communities in two control municipalities continued with usual health services. Trained Indigenous female interviewers administered a baseline and follow-up household survey, interviewing all women who reported pregnancy or childbirth in all involved municipalities since January 2016. Primary outcomes included childbirth and neonatal complications, perinatal deaths, and postnatal complications, and secondary outcomes were traditional childbirth (at home, in vertical position, with traditional midwife and family), access and experience in Western healthcare, food intake, reduction of heavy work, and cost of health care.


Among 872 completed pregnancies, women in intervention communities had lower rates of primary outcomes (perinatal deaths or childbirth or neonatal complications) (RD -0.06 95%CI − 0.09 to − 0.02) and reported more traditional childbirths (RD 0.10 95%CI 0.02 to 0.18). Among institutional childbirths, women from intervention communities reported more traditional management of placenta (RD 0.34 95%CI 0.21 to 0.48) but also more non-traditional cold-water baths (RD 0.10 95%CI 0.02 to 0.19). Among home-based childbirths, women from intervention communities had fewer postpartum complications (RD -0.12 95%CI − 0.27 to 0.01).


Supporting traditional midwifery increased culturally safe childbirth without worsening health outcomes. The fixed population size restricted our confidence for inference of non-inferiority for mortality outcomes. Traditional midwifery could contribute to safer birth among Indigenous communities if, instead of attempting to replace traditional practices, health authorities promoted intercultural dialogue.

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