Birthrights Launches Dignity in Birth Campaign on Global Dignity Day

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By: Sarah Blake, MHTF consultant

Wednesday, October 16, marked the sixth annual Global Dignity Day to promote respectful care during childbirth around the world. To mark the day, Birthrights, a UK-based organization devoted to advancing respectful, evidence-based care in childbirth in the UK launched its Dignity in Birth Campaign with the Dignity in Childbirth Forum, in collaboration with the White Ribbon Alliance.

The day included the launch of the results of the Birthrights Dignity Survey, which reports on the experiences of women, as well as views of midwives on the barriers to securing respectful care during birth in the UK. The survey, which included the perspectives of more than 1000 women and hosted by the website Mumsnet, was the first ever to include large-scale data collection specifically focused on issues of dignified care during childbirth in the UK.

Among women who completed the survey, approximately half said that they had not had the childbirth experience they wanted, and the majority of those felt that this had negative effects, many of which had a lasting impact on their well-being. Further, significant proportions of women reported having little control over their birth experiences, feeling that health providers did not listen to them, or even that they had not consented to medical procedures, including, in many cases, instrumental births.

In addition to women’s perspectives, Birthrights noted:

“Dignity in childbirth is largely dependent on the care that women receive from their professional caregivers. We sought the views of midwives on their perspectives and experience of dignity during birth. They described the challenges that they faced to safeguarding women’s dignity as a consequence of staffing shortages and inadequate training.”