The ‘Perceptions of Pregnancy’ survey initiated by Safe Motherhood Week indicates that over 94% of women surveyed did not have a trouble-free pregnancy experience. And while all women living in Europe in principle should have equitable access to high quality health- care, it is often mothers, regardless of their status who face the most challenges.
These initial findings support the need for a comprehensive approach to maternal care that considers maternal care in the broader sense – including the level of support and information a woman receives from her family, work, as well as from her doctor – and care that embraces the diversity of women in Europe. It is clear that more research is required to understand perceptions and experiences of pregnancy among under-represented or undocumented groups such as migrants.
Conducted in February 2016, the purpose of the survey was to analyse perceptions of pregnancy that exist among a sample of randomly selected women (aged between 18 and 45) from across 7 geographically and economically diverse countries in Europe: Denmark, France, Romania, UK, Spain, Poland and Germany. The data was collected via online panels.
Below you will find an overview of the key findings.
A trouble- free pregnancy is rare | The survey shows that across Europe there is still much work to be done to improve maternal care and the pregnancy experience for women. A vast majority of respondents experienced some sort of difficulty during their pregnancy ranging from perceived barriers to doctors or midwives, perceived impact on relationships (personal and professional), perceived discrimination in the workplace, and perceived appropriate access to information.
Access to information remains a problem | One of the most notable results relates to access to information. About one in four women sampled across Europe answered that they do not feel that they had the appropriate information and support immediately before and after giving birth.
Family planning is not a frequent topic of discussion with doctors | Another important result relates to family planning. Over half of the women in the survey responded that family planning had not been discussed with their doctor. This was even more pronounced among younger women.
Giving vulnerable women a voice | Although every effort was made to make the sample as representative as possible, the sample collection methodology means that some vulnerable groups of women may not have been included in the sample. However, the fact that the vast majority of women surveyed did not perceive to have a completely issue-pregnancy experience would suggest that the situation would be worse for these vulnerable groups, such as undocumented migrants.