Maternal health services have a potentially critical role in the improvement of reproductive health. The use of health services is related to the availability, quality and cost of the services, as well as to social structure, health beliefs and the personal characteristics of the users. The present paper examined the factors that influence the use of maternal health services for some selected pregnancy-related complications (e.g. prolonged labour, excessive bleeding, high fever/discharge and convulsions) in Bangladesh by using data from the Bangladesh Demographic Health Survey, 1999-2000. It was found that younger mothers were significantly less likely to seek professional healthcare at the time of birth. The odds for rural women seeking healthcare services from a doctor, nurse and/or midwife were half those of urban women. The strong influence of the mothers' education and parity on the utilisation of healthcare services is consistent with findings from other studies. The possession of assets emerged as an important predictor of seeking care from health professionals at the time of birth. Another factor, i.e. a husband's concern about pregnancy complications, showed a significant and positive impact on the utilisation of healthcare services, which is very important for rural women when they are dependent on their spouses. It was observed that the respondents living in urban areas, who had higher levels of education and lower parity, and more assets (used as a proxy for income), visited trained healthcare providers more often and were more likely to use healthcare facilities provided by trained personnel at the time of delivery. This is a reflection of the fact that, irrespective of their needs, only people from higher economic or educational groups can afford to seek healthcare from trained personnel in Bangladesh. In other words, predisposing and enabling factors appear to have a strong association with women's healthcare utilisation during pregnancy.
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