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Disrespect and abuse (D&A) during facility-based childbirth

Source: Maternal Health Task Force

Researchers Share Lessons Learned From Measuring the Prevalence of Disrespect and Abuse

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By: Sarah Hodin, Project Coordinator II, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Disrespect and abuse (D&A) during facility-based childbirth has been identified as a widespread problem, but just how commonly it happens is not well understood. Several studies have attempted to measure the prevalence of D&A during childbirth in health facilities across the globe, resulting in a wide range of estimates. Given that variations in reported prevalence may be at least in part the result of differences in definitions, measurement tools and data collection methods, comparing the extent of D&A across diverse settings remains challenging.

In order to better understand the trade-offs related to various methods for measuring the prevalence of D&A, the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF)’s Rima Jolivet and Harvard Chan doctoral student David Sando conducted a systematic literature review to find all of the studies that have attempted to measure D&A during childbirth in health facilities. They then collaborated with the authors of these studies to compare methods and offer lessons learned.

The following five studies were included in the review:

The prevalence estimates in these five studies ranged from 15% to 98%. Given that all of these studies were conducted in low-resource settings in sub-Saharan Africa with similar maternal health delivery systems, the wide variation was likely due at least in part to differences in the way that researchers chose study sites and participants, defined D&A and collected data from participants.

Recommendations for future studies

The authors offered recommendations for researchers conducting studies that involve measuring the prevalence of D&A in order to maximize reliability, validity and comparability of results:

  1. Study site and population: Ensuring that there are no systematic differences in the study sample compared to the target population is important.
  2. Inclusion criteria: All women receiving maternity care in the study facility should have equal chance of being included regardless of their pregnancy outcomes. Stratified analyses can be used to examine different sub-groups of interest.
  3. Standardization vs. localization: Standardization of measurement across different study populations would ensure comparability of findings between studies, but ensuring valid measures that capture the constructs of D&A as perceived and experienced in the local context is also key. It is therefore important to acknowledge the tension between standardization and localization in developing instruments to measure the prevalence of D&A. Use of standard categories could help maximize comparability, while some leeway may be needed for context-specific operationalization of those categories.
  4. Environment: When possible, conducting interviews with women in a safe, neutral setting outside of the health facility where they may have experienced D&A can help participants feel more comfortable and open.
  5. Timing: In contrast to the typical understanding of recall deteriorating over time, in this context, women’s self-reports of D&A may be more accurate when solicited after they have had some time to process their experiences. More research is needed in this area.
  6. Data collection methods: Direct observation is generally regarded as the gold standard for measuring observable phenomena in prevalence studies. However, if the outcome of interest is women’s experiences of care, using women’s self-reports–ideally collected using patient-developed or patient-validated measures and participatory research techniques—is a better method.

Are you working on measuring the prevalence of disrespect and abuse during facility-based childbirth? We want to hear from you!

Read the full open access paper, “Methods used in prevalence studies of disrespect and abuse during facility based childbirth: Lessons learned.”

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PMHP’s Spring update

The Perinatal Mental Health Project is shifting pathways

Read our latest newsletter to find out what we have been up to and how we are planning to go forward

In response to Daily Maverick article: “Antidepressants during pregnancy linked to autism in kids: study”

We would like to take the opportunity to raise caution with regard to the article published in The Daily Maverick  titled “Antidepressants during pregnancy linked to autism in kids: study” on 20 July 2017

“Single studies like this need to be interpreted with great caution. Risk does not mean an inevitable outcome. Furthermore, an association does not necessarily mean cause. An association may reflect a causal link between autism and severe depression or the association may reflect a causal link between the medication and autism.

The global evidence is increasingly showing that the risk of untreated depression or anxiety perinatally on the foetus and infant, are likely to outweigh the risks of antidepressants on offspring outcomes. Balancing the risks is an important part of the decision to treat with antidepressants or not. This decision needs to be individualized and made collaboratively, as part of the consultation between the woman and her practitioner.”
Dr Simone Honikman, Perinatal Mental Health Project (PMHP)

The article is published here

Further information on antidepressant use during pregnancy in our Issue Brief

Violence against Women during and after pregnancy

Women are particularly vulnerable to domestic abuse during and after their pregnancy. 

Protect yourself and your baby – help is available!

It is important to know what kinds of behaviour is considered domestic abuse – it is not only physical or sexual harm. Did you know that domestic abuse can happen between any persons sharing a household – not only at the hands of your partner?

 

Do you have a safety plan in place for you and your baby should anything go wrong?

Find out more about all this important information in our Violence against Women leaflet

Looking for more information for new mothers? Check out our resource pages.

Breaking the negative cycle of mental ill-health and poverty during the perinatal period

The negative cycle of mental ill-health and poverty is particularly relevant for women and their infants during the perinatal period. During this time, major life transitions render women more vulnerable to mental illness from social, economic and gender-based perspectives.

Those with the most need for mental health support, have the least access. Overburdened maternal and mental health services have not been able to address adequately this significant unmet need. There have been limited attempts at a programmatic level, to integrate mental health care within maternal care services.

The perinatal period, where women are accessing health services for their obstetric care, presents a unique opportunity to intervene in the event of mental distress. Preventive work involving screening and counselling may have far-reaching impact for women, their offspring and future generations.

Mental health care is a notoriously neglected area – even more so in “healthy” pregnant and postnatal women. The focus on the physical to the detriment of the emotional is particularly felt now against the backdrop of HIV and AIDS. The public health service has been unable to address the mental health needs of women from poorer communities – neither within maternity services nor within mental health services. This is despite a wide body of evidence showing that distress in the mother may have long-lasting physical, cognitive and emotional effects on her children.

Integrating mental health into maternal care in South Africa

The PMHP aims to integrate mental health service routinely, within the primary maternal care environment.
Based at selected government MoU facilities in Cape Town, we offer counselling and support services focused on the emotional wellbeing of pregnant women with a strong focus on postnatal and clinical depression.

MMH campaign summary and other news from the PMHP

Want to know how the Maternal Mental Health awareness campaign went this year?

Or want to check out our latest resources and developments in and around the PMHP?

Read our latest newsletter here

Let’s talk about mental health of pregnant teenagers

It’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month in some parts of the world

We want to emphasise that sex-education can prevent teenage pregnancy, but let’s not forget a teen mom is not only struggling with the normal issues of being a teenager, yet another part is facing the responsibilities of an adult!

Teenage pregnancy rates in South Africa are high, with around 30% of teenagers in the country reporting ever having been pregnant. According to the 2015 annual school survey, over 15,000 pupils fell pregnant during the academic year. This is nearly triple the worldwide rate of pregnancy in teenagers.

The psychological impact of pregnancy on teenagers is pronounced; adolescents are twice as likely as adults to experience postpartum depression. Another concern is the lack of education, with only about a third of pregnant girls in South Africa going on to finish their schooling. Incomplete education and lack of skills make it difficult for these young women to find work in order to support themselves and their children.

There are a number of physical ramifications to teenage pregnancy – unsafe abortions, for example, can cause injury or death. As a whole, complications during pregnancy and birth are the second leading cause of death for adolescent girls worldwide. But it’s not only them that face serious risks during this period – their babies also have a much higher risk of dying than those born to older mothers.

One way of decreasing the risks to both mother and child is by making skilled antenatal, childbirth and postnatal care available in a safe, teen-friendly environment. This should include counselling with the intent of providing emotional support, mobilising potential resources, and teaching important information about childcare.

Further readings: Pregnancy – a guide for teens

A guide to pregnancy, giving birth, and life as a mom for teens

Written by: Meagan Dill, PMHP volunteer

[#WMMHday Blog Series #4] “Falling Over the Edge”

This post is crossposted on the WMMHday campaign site by  Liz Shane

In the summer of 2013, my life was going great. I’d married my high-school sweetheart two years earlier and we had just moved into to an amazing rental house with our dog. It seemed like the perfect time to expand our family and I soon became pregnant with our first child. While I was initially ecstatic about the pregnancy, several weeks later, I started experiencing some very troubling symptoms.

I had a history of episodic anxiety and depression, usually centered around major life transitions, but this was something far beyond anything I had experienced in the past. I remember sitting in my office one day when I started to feel completely and utterly terrified, even though nothing was objectively wrong. I felt like crying all the time, could not focus on my work, and there was nothing that anyone could say or do to alleviate my anxiety. […]

Source: Falling Over the Edge – WMMH Day

[#WMMHday Blog Series #3] “Coming Up for Air”

This post is crossposted by Kathy Schommer

I feel like I’m drowning.” It was 7:00 a.m. on a weekday morning and my husband had just left for work. I was already sobbing on the phone to my mother, 1,800 miles away in North Dakota.

My then seven-month-old twin girls were bouncing away in their ExerSaucers. “I feel like I am treading water and trying so hard to keep my head up, but I keep sinking further down,” I cried to my mom. ”I’m trying to come up for air, but I feel like I can’t catch my breath.” […]

Source: Coming Up for Air – WMMH Day

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