A Number of Women Are Mistreated During Childbirth, Study

A new report found that many women are abused, neglected, or disrespected during childbirth, and it may be keeping them from delivering in hospitals, The New York Times reports.

The report, published in PLOS Medicine, gathered information from 65 studies from 34 countries showing that many women reported being yelled at, slapped, or pinched; suffering verbal or sexual abuse; being denied pain medicine during childbirth; and being forced to share beds with other new moms.

All of these things are believed to be keeping many women from delivering their babies in hospitals for fear of abuse, which is putting them at risk for complications during the delivery.

One of the studies they looked at in Nigeria found 98 percent of 446 women had reported being mistreated during labor, and 28 percent of 593 women in Tanzania reported the same.

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A research consultant at the World Health Organization and the first author of the new report, Meghan A. Bohren, says she's been concerned about these and similar abuses, such as women being forced into medical procedures and sterilization, and mothers and their children being held in medical facility detention because they couldn't afford to pay and wanted to take a closer look at what was happening.

The report noted that this kind of abuse can often occur between the woman and her medical provider, but can also be the fault of the medical facility itself, which could have a shortage of well-trained staff members, a lack of supervision, and a general lack of respect for women in many countries.

The report's authors hope to showcase the major problem they're seeing worldwide (but particularly in the poorest countries), thereby encouraging health care providers to provide a better experience for women so those women are more likely to deliver their children in hospitals and reduce the falling but still significant number of maternal mortality rates overall.


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