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Modeling Respectful Maternity Care

Malawian women have few resources, poor education, and a growing fear of health facilities.  Abusive and disrespectful maternity care has led some laboring women to avoid delivering where skilled providers practice. The lifetime maternal mortality risk in Malawi is 1 in 29 and unskilled care at childbirth is a contributing cause. Why is maltreatment of childbearing women so widespread, especially in developing countries? How can midwives foster a standard of respectful care and empower women to advocate for themselves?

WHO has included respectful care as an important element for safe childbirth, yet, a women’s right to respectful care is often ignored. In teaching respectful care,
midwifery faculty is frustrated with discrepancy between the theory taught in lecture and the clinical experience. Clinical staff are overworked and have little time to teach. Midwifery students witness unsafe, disrespectful practice but have no context or confidence to discern which care is appropriate. How do we find a space where students can be trained in respectful maternity care? We create it.

We proposed creating a model ward managed by midwives and run according to the standards of the International Confederation of Midwives for respectful maternity care. This presentation will describe the process of planning and implementation of a model ward to improve the student experience, empower midwives to function as independent practitioners, promote respectful care of women in labor, and improve overall maternal/infant outcomes.

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