What is respectful care?
Respectful maternity care (RMC) is a universal human right that is due to every childbearing woman in every health system. Women’s experiences with maternity caregivers can empower and comfort them, or inflict lasting damage and emotional trauma. While many interventions aim to improve access to skilled birth care, the quality of relationships with caregivers during maternity care has received less attention (White Ribbon Alliance 2017)
The concept of “safe motherhood” is usually restricted to physical safety, but childbearing is also an important rite of passage, with deep personal and cultural significance for a woman and her family. Because motherhood is specific to women, issues of gender equity and gender violence are also at the core of maternity care.
Thus, the notion of safe motherhood must be expanded beyond the prevention of
morbidity or mortality to encompass respect for women’s basic human rights,
including respect for women’s autonomy, dignity, feelings, choices, and preferences,
including companionship during maternity care (World Health Organisation 2017)
Respectful maternity care is not an option. It is not a luxury awarded only to women in certain geographies or demographic groups. It is a right.
(Currie and Bingham 2017)
The International Confederation of Midwives produce a definition of the midwife.
Please read this and make some notes about how this links to respectful care. For example you might think that keeping up to date with evidence based practices is important to ensure a midwife is able to provide women and families with informed choice.
‘A midwife is a person who has successfully completed a midwifery education programme that is based on the ICM Essential Competencies for Basic Midwifery Practice and the framework of the ICM Global Standards for Midwifery Education and is recognized in the country where it is located; who has acquired the requisite qualifications to be registered and/or legally licensed to practice midwifery and use the title ‘midwife’; and who demonstrates competency in the practice of midwifery.
Scope of Practice
The midwife is recognised as a responsible and accountable professional who works in
partnership with women to give the necessary support, care and advice during pregnancy, labour and the postpartum period, to conduct births on the midwife’s own responsibility and to provide care for the newborn and the infant. This care includes preventative measures, the promotion of normal birth, the detection of complications in mother and child, the accessing of medical care or other appropriate assistance and the carrying out of emergency measures.The midwife has an important task in health counselling and education, not only for the woman,but also within the family and the community. This work should involve antenatal education and preparation for parenthood and may extend to women’s health, sexual or reproductive health
and child care.A midwife may practise in any setting including the home, community, hospitals, clinics or health units’