The way forward in managing mistreatment during childbirth
A complex range of systemic challenges at both the health facility and health system levels contribute to the mistreatment of women, including poor supervisory structures, insufficient staffing, inadequate supply chains, poor physical conditions, and power dynamics that systematically disempower women.
What can be done:
Health systems must be held accountable for the mistreatment of women during childbirth
Improvements are needed to effectively prevent and respond to these harmful practices
Health systems must have sufficient resources to provide quality, accessible maternal health care and clear policies on women’s rights
Health-care providers at all levels require support and training to ensure that women are treated with compassion and dignity.
Further research is needed, however, to understand how institutional structures and processes can be reorganized to provide better woman-centred care
Understanding drivers, such as gender and social inequalities, and judgements about women’s sexuality, is critical to ensure that any interventions adequately account for societal context
Preventing mistreatment during childbirth can only be achieved through inclusive and equitable processes that engage both women and healthcare providers
Possible strategies include:
• Redesigning labour wards to allow for privacy and labour companionship
• Providing skills-building exercises for effective communication and on the informed consent process for all procedures
• Teaching providers stress-coping mechanisms
• Ensuring that healthcare providers are empowered and supported through supervisory structures; that workloads are manageable; and that remuneration is adequate.