Skip to main content

The future looks bright for women's rights

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: maternity

I was recently teaching a group of 2nd Year student midwives on the topic of dignity in childbirth. We explored in depth the Bill of Human Rights and were able to brainstorm current practices in midwifery that support or diminish basic human rights.

It was a frank and refreshing session whereby the students were able to give their honest views of dignity in childbirth and how they have seen first-hand the ways in which women’s rights can easily be diminished.

As second year students they have had exposure to all aspects of midwifery and have been able to work alongside a variety of healthcare professionals, yet they are still to formulate their own practice. It was therefore excellent to see how they were able to analyse differences in practice and recognise the not-so-good practices that can occur.

We then went on to explore why there were such vast differences between  professionals and within different locations of maternity care provision. The students all spoke highly of their experiences in midwifery-led care and felt that women and families were treated more as individuals in these settings, with attention always being paid to the wishes of the woman.

They had varying experiences within consultant-led units but all felt that this was a setting which was generally less conducive to supporting rights of women. The layout of labour rooms was highlighted by the students as a huge barrier to women’s rights in numerous aspects, not least as most of our hospital beds face the door to the corridor.

It was fantastic to hear these discussions and made me think of my own practice as a midwife. Do I always have time to consider the rights of my patient?  Do we as midwives get overwhelmed with new systems, techniques, complexity of cases, increased workload, and forget the basics of caring for people- the reason we all came into the profession?

We need to remember our role as mentors to student midwives. In supporting women’s rights in our own practice, we are teaching the next generation of midwives the importance of this.

We also need to nurture the sense of questioning that our students have as this is a vital component of challenging poor practice.

Midwives can have such a huge impact on women's’ pregnancy and birth experiences. We should never forget the privileged position we are in and I for one am delighted that these students already recognise this. The future looks bright for women’s rights in North Cumbria.

Sharing and comments

Share this page


  1. Comment by North Cumbria mother of 2 posted on

    Fantastic blog, great to hear that women's right feature so highly and are debated.

  2. Comment by Dr Louise Nelson posted on

    It is great to hear that midwifery education values women's rights, it makes me very proud of both our staff and our students

  3. Comment by Health professional and mother posted on

    This conversation is long overdue. What an excellent blog post.
    Now lets consider the dignity and privacy of women on the post natal wards and in particular, the scandal of women being forced to share sleeping accommodation with other people's partners.


Leave a comment

We only ask for your email address so we know you're a real person

By submitting a comment you understand it may be published on this public website. Please read our privacy notice to see how the GOV.UK blogging platform handles your information.