In Reproductive Rights

Connecting the Dots covered a review of studies finding that mistreatment of women during childbirth is a common problem around the world, and the U.S. and Canada aren’t exceptions. Christine Morton’s comment on the blog post cites a survey of doulas, childbirth educators, and labor & delivery nurses in the U.S. and Canada that reported some very disturbing results.

  • 50% of doulas and 35% of nurses disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement: “Care providers in my hospital explain the risks and benefits of every procedure.”
  • 71% of doulas and 78% of nurses had witnessed a care provider tell a woman that her baby might die if she didn’t agree to a proposed procedure; 8% of doulas and 4% of nurses had witnessed this often.
  • 26% of doulas and 39% of nurses had witnessed a care provider mention a laboring woman’s racial or ethnic background in a demeaning way; 1% in both groups had witnessed this often.
  • 4% of doulas and 22% of nurses had seen a laboring woman receive more procedures because of her ethnic or racial background; 4% of doulas and 2% of nurses had seen this often.
  • 33% of doulas and 24% of nurses had heard a care provider use sexually degrading language with a laboring woman; 2% of doulas and 1% of nurses had heard this often.
  • 89% of doulas and 90% of nurses had witnessed a care provider engage in procedures without giving the woman a choice or time to consider the procedure; 25% of doulas and 32% of nurses had witnessed this often.
  • 59% of doulas and 48% of nurses had witnessed a care provider engage in procedures explicitly against the wishes of the woman; 3% in both groups had seen this often.

The take-away? Watch for warning signs during prenatal visits. If your care providers are impatient; inflexible; don’t respect your right to make decisions about your care; or patronize, ridicule, threaten or bully you, head for the door. If they don’t treat you right during prenatal care, you can bet it won’t get better during the birth.

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