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Journal Article


Mayra K, Matthews Z, Sandall J, Padmadas SS. Birth 2024; ePub(ePub): ePub.


(Copyright © 2024, Wiley-Blackwell)






BACKGROUND: Evidence suggests that obstetric violence has been prevalent globally and is finally getting some attention through research. This human rights violation takes several forms and is best understood through the narratives of embodied experiences of disrespect and abuse from women and other people who give birth, which is of utmost importance to make efforts in implementing respectful maternity care for a positive birthing experience. This study focused on the drivers of obstetric violence during labor and birth in Bihar, India.

METHODS: Participatory qualitative visual arts-based method of data collection-body mapping-assisted interviews (adapted as birth mapping)-was conducted to understand women's perception of why they are denied respectful maternity care and what makes them vulnerable to obstetric violence during labor and childbirth. This study is embedded in feminist and critical theories that ensure women's narratives are at the center, which was further ensured by the feminist relational discourse analysis. Eight women participated from urban slums and rural villages in Bihar, for 2-4 interactions each, within a week. The data included transcripts, audio files, body maps, birthing stories, and body key, which were analyzed with the help of NVivo 12.

FINDINGS: Women's narratives suggested drivers that determine how they will be treated during labor and birth, or any form of sexual, reproductive, and maternal healthcare seeking presented through the four themes: (1) "I am admitted under your care, so, I will have to do what you say"-Influence of power on care during childbirth; (2) "I was blindfolded … because there were men"-Influence of gender on care during childbirth; (3) "The more money we give the more convenience we get"-Influence of structure on care during childbirth; and (4) "How could I ask him, how it will come out?"-Influence of culture on care during childbirth. How women will be treated in the society and in the obstetric environment is determined by their identity at the intersections of age, class, caste, marital status, religion, education, and many other sociodemographic factors. The issues related to each of these are intertwined and cross-cutting, which made it difficult to draw clear categorizations because the four themes influenced and overlapped with each other. Son preference, for example, is a gender-based issue that is part of certain cultures in a patriarchal structure as a result of power-based imbalance, which makes the women vulnerable to disrespect and abuse when their baby is assigned female at birth.

DISCUSSION: Sensitive unique feminist methods are important to explore and understand women's embodied experiences of trauma and are essential to understand their perspectives of what drives obstetric violence during childbirth. Sensitive methods of research are crucial for the health systems to learn from and embed women's wants, to address this structural challenge with urgency, and to ensure a positive experience of care.

Language: en


perinatal care; maternal health; gender‐based violence; obstetric violence; respectful maternity care


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