Introduction: Research was conducted to get a community’s perspective on the factors contributing to continued maternal and neonatal deaths. The aim of the study was to identify and understand experiences, perceptions and needs of the community on maternal health service utilization.Methods: Qualitative data was obtained through focus group discussions with community leaders, women, men and youth in the catchment areas of three remote health centres. A total of fourteen focus groups were held: three each with community leaders, men, women, boys and two with girls.Data was transcribed and analyzed manually through the use of thematic analysis.Results: The discussions revealed the following as barriers to maternal health service utilization: walking long distances to access health facilities, lack of midwives, lack of or insufficient items to be used during delivery, long stay and rude health personnel. Seeking help from Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) during delivery was a common option because TBAs are within reach, do not demand many items for delivery, and treat the women with respect.Conclusion: This study suggests some factors that are contributing to the high burden of maternal deaths in Malawi. Interventions should be developed and implemented to improve the barriers reported.