Household saving during pregnancy and facility delivery in Zambia: a cross-sectional study


Financial barriers cause many women in low- and middle-income countries to deliver outside of a health facility, contributing to maternal and neonatal mortality. Savings accrued during pregnancy can increase access to safe delivery services. We investigated the relationship between household saving during pregnancy and facility delivery. A cross-section of 2381 women who delivered a child in the previous 12 months was sampled from 40 health facility catchment areas across eight districts in three provinces in Zambia in April and May of 2016. During a household survey, women reported on their perceptions of the adequacy of their household savings during their recent pregnancy. Households were categorized based on women’s responses as: did not save; saved but not enough; and saved enough. We estimated crude and adjusted associations between perceived adequacy of savings and facility delivery. We also explored associations between savings and expenditures on delivery. Overall, 51% of women surveyed reported that their household saved enough for delivery; 32% reported saving but not enough; and 17% did not save. Household wealth was positively associated with both categories of saving, while earlier attendance at antenatal care was positively associated with saving enough. Compared with women in households that did not save, those in households that saved but not enough (aOR 1.63; 95% CI: 1.17, 2.25) and saved enough (aOR 2.86; 95% CI: 2.05, 3.99) had significantly higher odds of facility delivery. Both categories of saving were significantly associated with higher overall expenditure on delivery, driven in large part by higher expenditures on baby clothes and transportation. Our findings suggest that interventions that encourage saving early in pregnancy may improve access to facility delivery services.

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