According to a recent US study, one out of six pregnant American women are mistreated during labour. The study was shared on the Reproductive Health Journal and indicates that women are either shouted at or that their autonomy is compromised whilst giving birth.
This is not a unique case in South Africa either. Parenty published an article on the mistreatment of pregnant women in South African hospitals. This was based on evidence that the maternal mortality rate is declining, but is still too high.
Every second woman we spoke to had a story of how they were mistreated at the hands of doctors and nurses in maternity wards.
The Reproductive Health journal indicated that groups that are subjected to the worst form of mistreatment include:
- Women of colour
- Women with partners of colour
- Women with a lower socioeconomic standing
- Women under the age of 30
In 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed that pregnant women are at a high risk of enduring physical and verbal abuse 30 minutes before labour and 15 minutes after labour.
SA women recall how they are pinched in between their thighs to coerce them to push out the baby. The nurses will also remind them that they are not the ones that impregnated them, so they shouldn’t make noise.
WHO also published a study in The Lancet that indicates that more than 42% of women in countries such as Ghana, Guinea and Nigeria have experienced some form of abuse during labour. That is almost half of expecting moms in those regions!
A woman giving birth, especially for the first time, is so vulnerable and requires support and guidance. Giving birth to a child is a precious moment and these women should be cared for.