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April 25, 2024

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New Study: Women Are Being Mistreated in Childbirth

One in six women report mistreatment during childbirth, new research says. During the most vulnerable and compromised time in their lives.

Having a baby shouldn't have to be any harder than it already is, but some laboring women get slapped, pinched or even denied treatment during what should be one of the most incredible experiences of their lives.
    New research published recently in the journal Reproductive Health shows that many women report being yelled at and more while in labor.
    In the study that examined 2,700 women, 14 percent of white women reported mistreatment; 23 percent of black women; and 25 percent of Hispanic women.
    "This is a widespread phenomenon," says lead author Sawaswathi Vadam, a professor at the University of British Columbia. "Mistreatment, when you look at is in all of its aspects, certainly includes people being shouted at, scolded, or experiencing physical and verbal abuse. But there's also … not being listened to, not being engaged in the decision, not having the ability to self-determine what care happens for you and your body," she said.
    The most common type of mistreatment women acknowledged in the study was being shouted at by their doctors, midwives or nurses. Next was having their requests refused or not responded to for a reasonable amount of time. Five percent of women reported that their healthcare givers threatened to withold treatment or forced them into treatment they did not want.
    Another study four years ago highlighted the same issue — the mistreatment of mothers during childbirth.
    "To imagine that women are mistreated during this very special time is truly devastating," said Meghan A. Bohren, a research consultant and first author of the 2015 study.
    The new study is important because it comes at a time when women are finally able to label the sexual harassment they receive in the workplace and on the street.
    Childbirth is a very fundamental experience for women. They need to be listened to, not shouted at or subjected to disrespectful treatment in such a compromised and vulnerable state


About the Author

Susan Swindell Day

Susan Day is the editor in chief for this award-winning publication and all-things Nashville Parent digital creative. She's also an Equity actress, screenwriter and a mom of four amazing kids.