Protecting human rights in childbirth

Our Track Record 2013 – 2018

Frontline Advice Service  

  • Directly supported over 470 people through our email advice service (2013 to January 2018), increasing our reach significantly year on year.
  • Formed advice-giving relationships with Birth Companions and the National Childbirth Trust (NCT).
  • Ran a discussion thread with Mumsnet on rights in childbirth, signposting to our online resources, which received 4,000 unique hits in the first week alone (2017).

Research and Campaigns   

  • Published our Interim Report on the Human Rights and Dignity Experience of Disabled Women during Pregnancy, Childbirth and Early Parenting (2016). 
  • Co-hosted two ‘Policing Pregnancy’ conferences with the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and Centre for Parenting Culture Studies, attended by 300 academics, maternity professionals and campaigners, attracting significant national broadcast and print media coverage of rights-based maternity issues.
  • Hosted a ‘Childbirth and Court of Protection’ seminar, attended by 90 senior judges and lawyers, to address issues of mental capacity and childbirth decisions.

Education and Training 

  • Delivered over 40 training sessions for over 1000 health care professionals.
  • Reached 237 maternity staff through bespoke ‘Dignity in Childbirth’ training workshops in 2017, funded by the Baring Foundation, with 90% of attendees saying the workshop had an impact on how they planned to work with women.
  • Birthrights training was available for NHS Trusts under the £8m NHS Maternity Safety Training Fund and eight Trusts worked with us to secure funding from the Department of Health.
  • Collaborated with the British Institute of Human Rights and Royal College of Midwives (RCM) to produce a booklet ‘Midwifery and Human Rights: A Practitioner’s Guide’, funded by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.
  • Produced a suite of training films for health care professionals on human rights in childbirth, viewed over 3000 times and regularly by our training attendees.
  • Created an online training module on human rights in maternity with the RCM, with the potential to reach over 10,000 midwives and student midwives.

Policy and Legal Interventions

  • Successful joint legal interventions to protect women’s reproductive rights.
  • Directly influenced the National Maternity Safety Strategy (2017), which referenced “the need to provide women with the resources and support to make informed decisions and train clinicians to have individualised care planning conversations which uphold women’s autonomy and meet their individual needs”.
  • Active role on the NHS Maternity Transformation Programme: Better Births Stakeholder Council (ongoing), where we helped set a national vision rooted in human rights values to achieve maternity care that is: “safer, more personalised, kinder, professional and more family friendly; where every woman has access to information to enable her to make decisions about her care”.
  • Local trust policy changes such as: retraining obstetricians who used coercive threats of social services involvement to influence women’s maternity decisions; altering a London Trust’s policy on maternal request caesarean sections.
  • Influenced the A-EQUIP guidance, which draws extensively on the human rights framework and ensures midwives are clearer than ever about their duty to recognise a woman’s autonomy and support her choices.
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