High neonatal mortality is the hallmark of developing countries. Most of the deaths
are preventable by good antenatal care with risk identification and access to safe
delivery. However, only about a third of births are attended by skilled personnel
in Nigeria. The case of a newborn (one of a set of twins) delivered by breech in a
church maternity, who sustained multiple fractures and thermal burns from resuscitation
is presented. The mother had received antenatal care in an orthodox health facility
but opted to deliver in the church maternity. We discuss the problems associated with
delivery by unskilled birth attendants while reviewing the literature to highlight
the roles and mechanisms of church birth attendants. Reproductive health education
for women, their families and communities is advocated to enable birth preparedness.
Training, supervision, monitoring and regulation of practice of church birth attendants
will also be required to improve outcomes.