The study which was published in the Lancet Medical Journal was carried out on 2,016 women. The findings stated that 42% of women interviewed said they were abused; physically, verbally, some form of stigma or discrimination at maternity health facilities.

The study also found that a high number of caesarean sections, vaginal exams, and other procedures were done without the patient's consent.

The researchers interviewed 926 women between September 19, 2016, and January 18, 2018.

They conducted continuous labour observations on the women from when they were admitted, through labour and childbirth, to two-hour postpartum.

The study showed that 31.6% of the women who were part of the sample size were physically or verbally abused, or discriminated against.

The research found out that the most common form of abuse was verbal. Meanwhile, physical and verbal abuse increased 30 minutes before birth until 15 minutes after birth. This was often high during the 15-min period before birth.

The study also revealed that whereas 5.3% of the women requested for pain relief, 38.8% of those women did not receive it.

It added that most (95.0%) of the women were also not asked for their preferred birthing positions.

The study also stated that even though some women in Guinea (0.2%) and Nigeria (1.5%) were instructed to clean up blood, urine, faeces, or amniotic fluid after birth, none of the women observed in Ghana was asked to do so.

Recommendations

The authors of the study said officials must hold those who mistreat women during childbirth responsible for their actions. 

They also called on the government to put provide clear policies and sufficient resources to ensure that women have a safe place to give birth.

Among the specific steps proposed by the study are: making sure all medical procedures are performed only after getting an informed consent; allowing the patient to have a companion of their choice in the delivery room; redesigning maternity wards to offer the maximum privacy; and making sure no health facility tolerates instances of physical or verbal abuse.