JMW backs recommendations from new birth trauma report

Call 0345 872 6666

JMW backs recommendations from new birth trauma report

The All-Party Parliamentary Group report on Birth Trauma ‘Listen to Mums: Ending the Postcode Lottery on Perinatal Care’ was published yesterday. Based on over 1,300 submissions from those who have experienced a traumatic birth, the report describes the stories told as ‘harrowing’ and describes a lack of compassion and poor quality post-natal care.

I would like to say that I was shocked by the stories in the report, but as a specialist in birth injury claims at JMW, I am sorry to say that I was not. I have listened to too many clients describe what those who submitted evidence described. Each story is personal and upsetting in its’ own way, but I am no longer surprised just how badly some women and their babies are treated or how horrific the birth experience can be. I just have to remind myself that – as the report does say – many women have much better experiences.

I recently supported the parents of a baby boy through a four day inquest after he died, in part due to basic failings in his mother’s care, whilst last week I discussed the mistakes made at another hospital that led to the stillbirth of another client’s baby.

I am currently supporting a mother who suffered severe perineal tear, which could have been avoided had her labour been better managed so that forceps did not have to be used, and another who suffered severe bleeding that was not safely managed.

Not only that, we are acting for too many families whose babies suffered life changing injuries due to mistakes made by maternity staff in the way in which their pregnancies, labours or deliveries were manged. Their babies have been left with severe brain damage and cerebral palsy.

Given our experience, we whole heartedly support the recommendations in the report on increasing the number of midwives in the NHS and ensuring they are trained and continue to receive training in birth trauma, and are pleased to see the specialist focus on perineal tears. We agree with the steps proposed to ensure that women are fully informed of their options when giving birth and are asked for their consent during their pregnancy and labour.

Many of the women we speak to are, understandably, traumatised by what they have been through and, as described in the report, end up with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am currently instructing a perinatal psychiatrist to assess a different client each month. Most of our clients have received no or very little psychological help. Those that have had some counselling sessions have usually not received specialist treatment. Their partners are scarred too – often left trying to be brave and the one that can be relied on but suffering all the same. For those reasons we are pleased to see in the report suggestions of universal access to mental health services and a focus on an increase in specialist therapies, as well as the need to check in on the mental health of partners too.

We would have hoped that these horrifying stories of women’s and families’ trauma alone were enough to have led to whole-sale change to this country’s maternity services – but so far it has not. The report published today points out the knock-on effects of birth trauma - relationship and family breakdown, and the economic cost of those women not being able to return to work. There is also the cost of needing ongoing treatment and the need for additional care. Let us hope that all of these effects set out in detail in the report, if not the trauma alone, means that the government will act on these recommendations.

Did you find this post interesting? Share it on:

Related Posts