The adoption of respectful maternity care during labor and birth is a complex process which needs both scientific and interpersonal skills of providers. In this regard, identifying the potential barriers and applying effective strategies for implementing respectful maternity care are essential. This study aimed to explore the perceptions of Iranian midwives regarding respectful maternity care during labor and childbirth. This was a qualitative study which was conducted from September-December 2018 in two non-teaching public hospitals in Tehran, Iran. Twenty-four semi-structured interviews were conducted with midwives, who had more than one year work experience in labor and childbirth units, through a purposive sampling method. A content analysis approach was used to analyze the data and identify themes. Three themes were extracted including “showing empathy”, “women-centered care” and “protecting rights”. Showing empathy reflects that “establishing a friendly relationship” and “being with women”. Women-centered care encompassed “keeping women safe” and “participating in decision making”. Protecting rights reflected a need for “safeguarding dignity” as well as “giving equal care” and “preparing appropriate environment”. Iranian midwives considered respectful maternity care a broader concept than just preventing mistreatment. Providing supportive care through friendly interaction with women was the first step for providing respectful maternity care. Respectful care is also promoted by providing safe care, implementing evidence-based care and involving women in their care as well as by providing an appropriate environment for women, families and caregivers.
The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. Dr. Barbara Potrata is an employee of Pharmerit International. This does not alter our adherence to PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.