Neonatal deaths account for almost two-thirds of infant mortality worldwide; most deaths are preventable. Two-thirds of neonatal deaths occur during the first week of life, usually at home. While previous Egyptian studies have identified provider practices contributing to maternal mortality, none has focused on neonatal care. A survey of reported practices of birth attendants was administered. Chi-square tests were used for measuring the statistical significance of inter-regional differences. In total, 217 recently-delivered mothers in rural areas of three governorates were interviewed about antenatal, intrapartum and postnatal care they received. This study identified antenatal advice of birth attendants to mothers about neonatal care and routine intrapartum and postpartum practices. While mothers usually received antenatal care from physicians, traditional birth attendants (dayas) conducted most deliveries. Advice was rare, except for breastfeeding. Routine practices included hand-washing by attendants, sterile cord-cutting, prompt wrapping of newborns, and postnatal home visits. Suboptimal practices included lack of disinfection of delivery instruments, unhygienic cord care, lack of weighing of newborns, and lack of administration of eye prophylaxis or vitamin K. One-third of complicated deliveries occurred at home, commonly attended by relatives, and the umbilical cord was frequently pulled to hasten delivery of the placenta. In facilities, mothers reported frequent use of forceps, and asphyxiated neonates were often hung upside-down during resuscitation. Consequently, high rates of birth injuries were reported. Priority areas for behaviour change and future research to improve neonatal health outcomes were identified, specific to type of provider (physician, nurse, or daya) and regional variations in practices.
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