Safe Motherhood

Childbearing is an important rite of passage, with deep personal and cultural significance for a woman and her family. The events surrounding pregnancy and birth will influence the outcomes of her birthing career, the success of her mothering career, as well as the long-term wellness of herself and her child.

Birth is uncertain but not dangerous for the majority of women. For women, pregnancy and birth is a normal physiological life event not an illness to be treated. A childbearing woman requires compassionate and competent professionals to support her to make safe maternity and birth choices. Pregnancy and birth is a physical, emotional, social and psychological act.  Australia needs to make pregnancy care safe both physically and psychologically for women.  A healthy, strong and confident mother gives a baby the best start at birth, influencing the long-term wellness of her child.

Birth is not only about making babies.  Birth is about making mothers …. strong, competent, capable mothers who trust themselves and know their inner strength.  (Barbara Katz Rothman)

Caring and respectful relationships with healthcare professionals can make the difference between a positive and a negative birth experience.  Considerable evidence indicates that respecting choice and partnering with women in their own care is associated with a better care experience. A better care experience is associated with better clinical outcomes, enhanced consumer safety and less use of healthcare interventions, (  Whereas disrespectful care, diminishes a woman’s involvement in the birth of her child.  Maternity care must be part of a respectful relationship whereby her views are respected to create a final outcome that empowers the woman, ensures the safe birth of her baby, assisted by the help of the health professional when indicated (

Respectful Maternity Care Charter

A woman’s relationship with maternity care providers and the maternity care system during pregnancy and childbirth is vitally important. Women’s memories of their childbearing experiences stay with them for a lifetime and are often shared with other women, contributing to a climate of confidence or doubt around childbearing.

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.

The linking of quality of care with the human rights approach to health is the intent of The Respectful Maternity Care Charter.  The charter purposely focuses specifically on the patient’s experience of care – on the interpersonal aspects of care received by women seeking maternity services (

Source: Safe Motherhood for All – (Respectful Maternity Care )