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Exploring Women-Centered Care and Communal Support

Imagine a world where every pregnant woman is treated with respect, her safety is prioritized, and her well-being is at the heart of every decision. That's what Women-Centered Care (WCC) is all about, and we're here to break it down for you!

What's the Buzz About Women-Centered Care (WCC)?

This type of care focuses on ensuring you feel holistically cared for, forming a partnership between you and your healthcare providers, and keeping your general well-being at the forefront. This caring approach empowers women, giving them the confidence they need during this special time.

The First Step: Understanding Women's Thoughts

Before we can make things better, we need to understand how pregnant women feel about their care. That's where research comes in! Researchers wanted to know what pregnant women thought about Women-Centered Care in different healthcare settings like birth centers, clinics, and hospitals. They had two big questions:

  1. How do pregnant women feel about Women-Centered Care at these places?

  2. Does Women-Centered Care influence how women feel about their birth experiences?

The Exciting Discoveries

Obstetricians have been criticized for not allowing women to participate in decisions about their maternity care. To combat health professional attitudes, we can encourage a shift in the perception of birth, observing the positive link between women-centered care and birth outcomes.

So, what did the researchers find? They talked to women who gave birth in different places – birth centers, clinics, and hospitals – to get their opinions. And guess what? Women who gave birth at birth centers were pleased with the Women-Centered Care they got! They felt respected and satisfied with the care they received, much more than those who gave birth at clinics or hospitals.

Understanding Humanized Birth

Humanized birth is about making the birth experience comfortable, not just physically but also emotionally. It's not about avoiding medical help – sometimes we need it! Instead, it's about treating moms and families with kindness and understanding. Acknowledging how different social and cultural beliefs shape how birth impacts the individual and the family. Humanized birth focuses on giving control to moms and valuing their wishes.

In Churcampa, Peru, health officials surveyed the community for their needs to combat the high maternal mortality rate of indigenous women. The women wanted a deliberate effort by health officials to respect local women's childbirth traditions and culture. An example of cultural tradition is giving birth vertically, with a rope hanging from the ceiling, instead of on a horizontal delivery bed. They wanted their family's participation and support during childbirth, to speak in their native language, and to be treated well and with affection. Health officials implemented changes based on the surveyed needs:

  • Changed labor and delivery rooms.

  • Incorporated midwives in the birth plans.

  • Allowed private rooms for family participation.

And what do you know? Peruvian women started attending the clinic more frequently!

Like Peru, a traditional Japanese method of dealing with childbirth pain is grasping a cord attached to the ceiling and hanging from it. But they also promote other natural approaches for relieving pain. These include massages, breathing techniques, thermotherapy, birth pools, aromatherapy, warm blankets, and emotional and psychological support from companions. Implementing this level of care could be complex within Western medicine-based hospitals. However, to measure change, we must learn from the success of other countries and invest in redesigning maternal care.

Caring for pregnant women isn't just about medicine – it's about respect, kindness, and understanding. Women-Centered care and humanized birth are like best friends, ensuring every mom feels special and supported. Remember, every woman's journey is unique and deserves the best care possible!

Communal Support & Postpartum Care

During the prenatal period, women see their OB-GYN a dozen or more times. The baby's first pediatric visit usually occurs within days of birth. But the mother may only have a follow-up appointment with her doctor four to six weeks after delivery. Most of the time, insurance covers one visit. A single visit does not allow enough time to address a new mother's questions and concerns, especially for complicated pregnancies or chronic conditions (hypertension, diabetes, or mood disorders).

We can close the gap in care in multiple ways:

Midwives and Doulas Roles in Postpartum Change

Our healthcare system cannot currently support the individualized needs of patients. However, midwives and doulas can fill the gap by providing emotional and informational support and advocacy. Postpartum care needs to transition from an event to an ongoing process. Some birth workers have labeled the postpartum period as the fourth trimester. We can invest in services and support tailored to individual needs during this critical time. Examples of Types of Services Include:

  1. Antepartum Doula: Specialize in supporting high-risk or complicated pregnancies

    1. For Example: If You're On Bed Rest, this doula could assist with cooking meals, helping organize new things for the baby, attending appointments, navigating culturally appropriate resources, etc.

  2. Postpartum Doula: Specialize in supporting the transition into parenthood

    1. For Example: Assist with healing from c-sections and traumatic births, self-care options, nutritional guidance, newborn care, infant feeding issues and solutions, etc.

  3. Abortion & Loss Support: Specialize in non-judgmental support during grief & loss

    1. For example: Offer culturally significant and humble care, provide resources to affirm throughout the healthcare process, attend appointments, and offer aftercare in the home.

Communal Support: It Takes A Village

Unfortunately, healthcare and reproductive support in the US is a privilege. Until we create systemic change, we must proactively create our support network. When I was born, my mother spent several weeks in her mother's care. Allowing my mom time to rest, recuperate, and learn how to care for her infant. This is a common practice in many cultures. In Japan, women stay at their maternal homes for up to eight weeks after the baby is born. We must intentionally support our friends and loved ones to encourage women-centered care. This could manifest by acts of service:

Ask How You Can Be Of Service

  1. You could visit to hold and feed the baby and give the primary care parent time to shower.

  2. Offer to do laundry; Make Dinner and DROP IT OFF; Send gift cards or cash for take-out.

  3. Offer to babysit, give the parents time to run errands, or getaway for the day.

  4. If you have a background in healthcare: Check In! Ask them about symptoms and encourage emergency services if you notice red flags.

The new American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) guidelines encourage women to see their providers within three days postpartum for high-risk (severe hypertension) and no later than three weeks for normal pregnancies and deliveries. The final postpartum visit should occur no later than twelve weeks after delivery and ideally include a full physical, social, and psychological assessment. We have to bring humanity back to the process. It's not just about the medical stuff; it's about treating each woman like the unique and important person she is!

Everything from pain, weight loss, sexuality, and management of chronic diseases are critical care areas to prioritize for patient-centered care. Let's change our philosophy around birth, treating it as a normal physiological process (not an illness). Let's invest in health practices based on professional collaborative efforts towards a shared goal of high-quality medical care. Through women-centered care, we encourage better care satisfaction and a respectful treatment experience.


  1. Behruzi, R., Hatem, M., Fraser, W. et al. Facilitators and barriers in the humanization of childbirth practice in Japan. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth10, 25 (2010).

  2. Iida M, Horiuchi S, Porter SE. The relationship between women-centred care and women's birth experiences: a comparison between birth centres, clinics, and hospitals in Japan. Midwifery. 2012 Aug;28(4):398-405. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2011.07.002. Epub 2011 Aug 10. PMID: 21835515.


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