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Facts for Life

Safe Motherhood

Supporting Information


Every woman has the right to quality health care, especially a pregnant woman or a new mother. Health workers should be technically competent and sensitive to cultural practices and should treat all women, including adolescent girls, with respect.

Many dangers of pregnancy and childbirth can be avoided if women have access to quality health care during pregnancy and childbirth and after childbirth.

All women have the right to the services of a skilled birth attendant, such as a doctor, nurse or midwife, and to emergency care if complications should arise.

Quality health care that offers information and counselling enables women and men to make informed decisions about their reproductive health. A woman in need of maternal care should be supported by her husband or partner and family to take good care of herself and her baby and to reach a health facility when needed, including for prenatal care, childbirth, post-natal care and emergency care.

Governments, with support from communities, should make sure that the cost of health services does not prevent women, including adolescent girls, from using them. Other barriers such as the cost of transport, long distances, difficult roads and cultural practices also need to be addressed to ensure access to health services.

Health-care providers should be supported through regular training to maintain and improve their technical and communication skills needed to provide quality health care. They should be trained to treat all women with respect, to be sensitive to cultural norms and practices, and to respect a person's right to confidentiality and privacy. They need to be sensitive and understanding of the particular needs of adolescents, and know how to support and counsel them in caring for themselves and their babies.