Maternal near-miss events are a key measure of maternal health; abortion-related complications are one source of near-miss events. To understand the pathway to care of women with severe abortion-related events in a fragile context, we conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews with women who obtained treatment at a referral hospital in Jigawa State, Nigeria, in 2020–2021 (n = 61). We used the Three Delays Model (Thaddeus & Maine, 1994) to examine impediments in reaching care.
The first delay (from the onset of symptoms of the pregnancy loss to the decision to seek care) was characterized by the duration of time it took to recognize the pregnancy and pregnancy loss in addition to religious beliefs that it is the will of a higher power that she lost the pregnancy. The second delay (from the decision to seek care to arriving at a place that could provide adequate care for her complication, i.e. the study site); was due to lack of money, lack of passable roads and transport, use of traditional healers, challenges being seen by providers at lower-level facilities, referrals not being facilitated and misdirection by healthcare providers. The third delay was not present in our results. No respondent said she knowingly interfered with the pregnancy; understanding why these pregnancy losses resulted in near-miss complications is critical to reducing maternal morbidity and mortality in Northern Nigeria. Addressing women's health literacy as well as social and financial barriers holds the potential to get women to care sooner and avert these near-miss or potentially life threatening events.