Dignity in Childbirth

Our Dignity Campaign

A woman’s relationship with her maternity providers is vitally important. Not only are these encounters the vehicle for essential lifesaving health services, but women’s experiences with caregivers can empower and comfort or inflict lasting damage and emotional trauma.’ White Ribbon Alliance, Respectful Maternity Care, 2011

Our Dignity in Childbirth Campaign launches in October 2013 to protect and promote women’s dignity in childbirth.

Read the results of our Dignity Survey to find out what women have reported about choice and respectful care during childbirth in the UK. The majority of women said they were happy with their maternity care, but less than half of women we surveyed had the birth they wanted and many experienced lack of choice and disrespectful care.

As the White Ribbon Alliance has found, there is increasing evidence that paints a disturbing picture of disrespect in maternity systems in wealthy nations, including the UK. While our maternity system generally ensures safe outcomes for mothers and babies, stories of disrespect in childbirth – ranging from procedures performed without consent to verbal abuse and bullying – are worryingly common. Women’s autonomy in childbirth – choices about where, how and with whom they give birth – are often limiteMumsnet-landscaped with lasting impact for mother and baby.

The basic principles of respectful treatment are sometimes neglected in hospitals – a problem highlighted in the recent NHS Mid Staffordshire Trust report. Since Birthrights launched in January 2013, many women have sought our advice about making a complaint about disrespectful treatment or obtaining legal redress. We know there are serious and systemic issues with the respectful treatment of women in childbirth. The Dignity Campaign gives a voice to women’s dignity and rights and will propose practical solutions that we hope will improve care for women in the UK.

Our first step in the Campaign was the Dignity Forum held on 16 October 2013. We explored what dignity meant for women and the challenges that exist to making it a reality. Read more about it here.

Read our Birthrights Projects and Perspectives about inspiring dignity-respecting initiatives in maternity care.