Maternity care may not be meeting the needs of pregnant disabled women, researchers from Bournemouth University (BU) and University of Liverpool have found.
The research, commissioned by human rights in childbirth charity Birthrights, surveyed women with physical or sensory impairment or long term health conditions.
An interim report from the research, published today, found that - despite most women rating the support they received from maternity health carers positively - only 19% of women thought that reasonable adjustments or accommodations had been made for them.
Some found birth rooms, postnatal wards and their maternity notes and scans “completely inaccessible”, while a quarter of women reported that they felt they were treated less favourably because of their disability.
Just over half of the participants expressed dissatisfaction with one or more care providers, particularly their awareness of the impact of disability and their perception that their choices in pregnancy and birth were being reduced or overruled. More than half (56%) felt that health care providers did not have appropriate attitudes to disability.
The research was conducted by Jenny Hall, Jillian Ireland and Professor Vanora Hundley at Bournemouth University and Dr Bethan Collins, a Lecturer in Occupational Therapy at the University of Liverpool.
Professor of Midwifery Vanora Hundley said: "While this is a small survey the findings echo the recommendations of the National Maternity Review published earlier this year, which highlighted the importance of personalised, woman-centred care with continuity of carer. It is clear that these are important considerations for all women, but particularly for those women who have a disability.”
Rebecca Schiller, chief executive of Birthrights added: “This interim report suggests that there are significant human rights issues at stake for disabled pregnant women in the UK and Ireland. More than a quarter of women we surveyed felt that their rights were either poorly or very poorly respected. This is unacceptable and we will be working hard to address this over the coming years."