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
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 limited 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 is the Dignity Forum to be held on 16 October 2013. We will explore what dignity means for women and the challenges that exist to making it a reality.
Read our Birthrights Projects and Perspectives about inspiring dignity-respecting initiatives in maternity care.