Respectful Maternity Care

  • Blog post

    As a rookie player to the game of mothering, I recently realized I had taken for granted the pleasant labor and delivery unit I experienced with the birth of my first child in October 2013. I was coached, cared for, and, most importantly, respected by all of the labor and delivery unit staff – isn’t that what everyone experiences? Unfortunately, I came to find out that the answer is “no.”

    This spring I had the opportunity to interview Meredith, a Certified Nurse-Midwife who works for Zanmi Lasante, the sister organization of Partners in Health in Haiti. She enlightened me to the fact that not all women have a positive or respectful experience during childbirth. One unfortunate result is that some women, upon hearing about or having a negative experience, choose to deliver at home without a skilled birth attendant. This puts them at risk of childbirth-related complications.

    How did a K4Health Toolkit help Meredith strengthen respectful maternity care in Haiti? Watch our new video to find out!

    If you are like Meredith and have used a Toolkit or a Toolkit resource in your work in an impactful way, I would love to hear your story.

  • Blog post

    K4Health has partnered with 117 organizations to create over 50 Toolkits, which are practical collections of trusted public health resources, chosen by experts, arranged for easy use. USAID’s Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) manages the Respectful Maternity Care Toolkit, highlighted here in a post by Susan Moffson, MCHIP Senior Program Officer, published on the USAID Impact Blog.

    Abuse and disrespect during maternity care has been documented and observed globally. In response, USAID’s flagship Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) is launching the Respectful Maternity Care (RMC) Toolkit. This package of materials is designed to provide clinicians, trainers, managers and other stakeholders involved in the provision of maternity care with the tools necessary to begin implementing RMC in their area of work or influence. This toolkit contains program learning documents, such as: surveys and briefs on country experiences; training materials; tools to assess and improve RMC within programs and services; job aids; and a resource list.

    Women who chose to give birth at home without a skilled health care provider, as well as their newborns, are more likely to suffer complications and die. In less developed countries, there may be many reasons women chose not to give birth in a health facility, such as distance, and lack of transport or money to pay for health services. However, all too often a lack of respectful care from frontline health workers—such as doctors and midwives—cause women and their families to distrust the health care system and opt for more risky homebirths, with unskilled traditional birth attendants (TBAs). Women often choose to deliver with TBAs not only because their services cost less, but also because they provide RMC and follow up care, and are trusted and known within their communities.

    Mozambican Mother

    Mozambican mother holds her newborn. Photo credit: Jhpiego

    Multiple factors may contribute to disrespect and abuse within healthcare services. Health systems may be underequipped, and healthcare workers may be overwhelmed due to inadequate pay, lack of infrastructure, or insufficient staff and supplies. An attitude of disrespect for clients and patients may permeate the healthcare system, and healthcare workers may not receive any guidance or supportive supervision related to RMC or their work in general.

    The goal of this toolkit is to empower frontline health workers to provide RMC, allowing women and their families to experience better maternity care and to choose to deliver with a skilled provider at home or, preferably, in a health facility. The ultimate impact of more women using skilled birth services during child birth will be reduced newborn and maternal deaths.