This document complements FIGO’s Statement – Childbirth: A Bill of Rights – and highlights the need for global health system strengthening efforts and the importance of respectful care. Together with the bill of rights, it will help to power Sustainable Development Goals 3.1 and 3.2, which aim to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births and end preventable deaths of children and newborns by 2030.
Models of maternity care have shifted from a medical model to a value-based model grounded in partnership between provider and recipient. In the latter model, the health needs and expectations of the care recipient, as well as the desired health outcomes, are the driving forces behind decision-making and quality measurements. In maternal and newborn care with a woman-centred approach, there is a focus on the full scope of maternity care provided by health care practitioners. Strengthening our health systems and providing respectful care are essential elements in maternal and newborn health.
The International Childbirth Initiative (ICI) addresses pressing challenges in maternity care, with the aim of delivering care that is safe, respectful and grounded in evidence. This respect includes treating mothers and families with dignity, as well as ensuring that providers are treated with respect within their workplace. ICI has chosen to place the ‘MotherBaby–Family’ unit in the centre of care provision, as the care recipient. MotherBaby–Family refers to an integral unit during pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, birth and infancy, with members influencing the health of each other.
Within this triad, the MotherBaby dyad remains central in importance, as the care of one significantly impacts the other. The addition of ‘Family’ to this unit conveys the importance of spouses, partners and the social or community family structure in which pregnancy is planned, fertilisation takes place, a child is born and a child is raised. The Family unit emphasises that maternal care activities and systems need to fulfil the needs of the MotherBaby–Family triad to achieve the full potential of safe and respectful maternity care.
Responding to the challenge of disrespect and abuse in maternity care – a well-documented phenomenon – ICI follows the recommendation that this issue must be addressed through improved communication, awareness and monitoring, embedded within the health care facility.