Women’s views of and responses to maternity services rendered during labor and childbirth in maternity units in a semi-rural district in south africa

Elizabeth Zitha, Mathilda M. Mokgatle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Facility-based delivery is an important strategy to prevent poor labor outcomes, and midwives are at the center of maternal care. However, disrespectful and abusive maternal care by midwives is prevalent and leads to poor antenatal care utilization and increased numbers of home deliveries. The objective of the study was to assess the views of women about the care they received during labor and childbirth and describe the interactions between the women and the midwives. This was a qualitative study using in-depth interviews with women who had delivered in midwife obstetric units at a district hospital in Tshwane District, South Africa. Twenty-six women aged 18– 41 years, and had delivered within the previous six months were selected, using purposive sampling. A thematic content analysis approach and NVivo11 computer software were used to identify emergent themes. Most women had had negative experiences of the maternity services they had received during labor and childbirth. Shouting and rude remarks by midwives caused tension between the midwives and the women and had created a major barrier for communication. The abuse and disrespect that the women were subjected to had created a hostile and uncaring environment for them. They felt stressed, fearful, and anxious throughout labor and childbirth. In response to the hostile environment, they employed manipulative tactics such as pushing before time in the hope of getting attention. These acts resulted in punitive responses from the midwives who joined forces against them, reprimanded, or ignored them. Good interactions, described as being respectful, approachable, and polite, and the sharing of information yielded positive experiences of maternity care. The state of maternity services rendered during labor and childbirth is counterproductive to the existing plan of increasing early antenatal care bookings and presentation to the facilities for labor and childbirth. There is a need to retrain midwives in the respectful care of women during labor and childbirth to facilitate a change in their attitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5035
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2020


  • Disrespectful care
  • Interpersonal relations
  • Labor and childbirth
  • Maternal care
  • Midwife obstetric units
  • South Africa
  • Verbal abuse


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