The White Ribbon Alliance has an excellent short video on YouTube about respectful maternity care. Although maternity professionals in the developed world as well as the media have focused on brutality; physical violence; isolation; and lack of confidentiality, privacy, and respect in developing countries, those of us in the first world cannot sit back in satisfaction at our own performance.

To read an article about the status of respectful maternity care in the U.K., go to The results from the survey are highlighted below:

Dignity Survey

In September 2013, we asked over 1,100 women who had given birth over the past two years about their experiences of childbirth. The majority of women were happy with the maternity care they received, but our survey revealed that many women still do not receive respectful care or choice in childbirth.

home-birthRead the results in full in the Birthrights Dignity Survey.

Only half of the women we surveyed had the birth they wanted. The majority felt that their childbirth experiences affected their self-image and relationships with their baby and their partner. A significant proportion of these women believed that the effect was negative.

Our findings from women who gave birth in hospital or birth centres included:

Only 68% of women were given a choice of where to give birth
31% of women said that they did not feel in control of their birth experience
15% of women were unhappy with the availability of pain relief and 10% were unhappy with the choice of pain relief
23% of women were unhappy about being not given a choice of position during labour
20% of women said healthcare professionals did not always introduce themselves
18% of women did not feel that health professionals listened to them
12% of women did not consider that they had consented to medical procedures
24% of women who had an instrumental birth said they had not consented to procedures

We interviewed midwives about their understanding and experience of dignity in childbirth. They described the challenges they faced to safeguarding women’s dignity as a result of staffing shortages and inadequate training. Read about their responses in the second part of the Birthrights Dignity Survey.