Report shows global mistreatment of women during childbirth

A new report based on information from 34 countries, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, has revealed that “many women globally experience poor treatment during childbirth, including abusive, neglectful or disrespectful care.” The abuses and humiliations these mothers undergo — including being slapped and pinched during labor, yelled at, denied pain medicine, neglected or forced to share beds with other women who just gave birth — could be driving  them away from hospitals, undermining international goals of reducing deaths during childbirth. That number now stands at 300,000 per year, and, sadly, most of those deaths, caused by treatable problems like bleeding, infection and high blood pressure, are preventable. Maternal health experts agree that the key to preventing maternal deaths is having women give birth at hospitals rather than at their homes, but this is hampered when women fear being abused at hospitals. “To imagine that women are mistreated during this very special time is truly devastating,” said Meghan A. Bohren, first author of the new report and a research consultant at the World Health Organization.

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