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Women Birth ; 35(4): 378-386, 2022 Jul.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1401932


BACKGROUND: Significant adjustments to maternity care in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the direct impacts of COVID-19 can compromise the quality of maternal and newborn care. AIM: To explore how the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected frontline health workers' ability to provide respectful maternity care globally. METHODS: We conducted a global online survey of health workers to assess the provision of maternal and newborn healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic. We collected qualitative data between July and December 2020 among a subset of respondents and conducted a qualitative content analysis to explore open-ended responses. FINDINGS: Health workers (n = 1127) from 71 countries participated; and 120 participants from 33 countries provided qualitative data. The COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected the provision of respectful maternity care in multiple ways. Six central themes were identified: less family involvement, reduced emotional and physical support for women, compromised standards of care, increased exposure to medically unjustified caesarean section, and staff overwhelmed by rapidly changing guidelines and enhanced infection prevention measures. Further, respectful care provided to women and newborns with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 infection was severely affected due to health workers' fear of getting infected and measures taken to minimise COVID-19 transmission. DISCUSSION: Multidimensional and contextually-adapted actions are urgently needed to mitigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the provision and continued promotion of respectful maternity care globally in the long-term. CONCLUSIONS: The measures taken during the COVID-19 pandemic had the capacity to disrupt the provision of respectful maternity care and therefore the quality of maternity care.

COVID-19 , Maternal Health Services , COVID-19/epidemiology , Cesarean Section , Female , Humans , Infant, Newborn , Pandemics , Pregnancy , Surveys and Questionnaires
Health Equity ; 4(1): 330-333, 2020.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-710151


Growing discourse around maternity care during the pandemic offers an opportunity to reflect on how this crisis has amplified inequities in health care. We argue that policies upholding the rights of birthing people, and policies decreasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission are not mutually exclusive. The explicit lack of standardization of evidence-based maternity care, whether expressed in clinical protocols or institutional policy, has disproportionately impacted marginalized communities. If these factors remain unexamined, then it would seem that equity is not the priority, but retaining power and control is. We advocate for a comprehensive understanding of how this pandemic has revealed our deepest failures.