In gynaecological-obstetric wards, the rights of women giving birth are regularly violated or restricted. Although the so-called standards of perinatal care are still in force, according to the Birth by Humanity Foundation, in 2017-2018 as many as 54.% of women surveyed experienced violence and other abuses in maternity wards (e.g. no contact with the child after delivery, surgical and medical interventions without patients’ consent). Unfortunately, the managements of medical facilities downplay the existing legislation and turn a blind eye to the fact that patients’ rights are being violated. There is also a lack of a system for controlling and monitoring the implementation of perinatal care standards in hospitals. In addition, the situation has been made dramatically worse by the pandemic and the new regulations introduced with it.
The project conducted 49 webinars and workshops on the rights of pregnant and postpartum women for 605 people, including expectant mothers and midwives working in hospitals. The Leadership Academy training series was attended by 14 future guards from different counties. The female leaders then conducted workshops/webinars for female residents of Śrem, Oborniki, Piła, Leszno and Gniezno and intervened in Wielkopolska hospitals (a total of 7 interventions were undertaken as part of the project). In addition, almost 40 women received individual legal and psychological support. Based on a survey among women who gave birth in Wielkopolska hospitals, a report with recommendations for changes in perinatal care in times of pandemonium was developed. The report was submitted to the Birth for Humanity Foundation and to hospital managements.
The project mainly benefited expectant mothers from Wielkopolska, who gained knowledge about their rights in terms of perinatal care and how to enforce them during their stay in hospital (e.g. creating a birth plan and writing complaints in case of violations). This was particularly important given the information chaos that came with the pandemic. In turn, the participants of the Leadership Academy gained the competence to take independent action for the rights of women giving birth in their local communities and created an active regional network of guardians of perinatal care standards. An important result of the project was also changes in specific facilities (hospitals with delivery wards in Wielkopolska), where interventions were undertaken after reported violations of patients’ rights.