Midwives have no time to care for new mums- report warns
New mothers are left frightened and alone after childbirth, because midwives do not have time to care for them, a major study has warned.
The report by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) says staff shortages have left increasing numbers of mothers feeling isolated at a time when they are desperate for reassurance.
The charity’s poll of more than 1,200 first time mothers found 59 per cent did not get the “emotional support” they felt they needed after giving birth – compared with 51 per cent in a similar survey a decade ago.
Women who had undergone a caesarean section were the least happy about their experience.
Asked about the 24 hours following birth, 66 per cent said they had not received enough support, compared to 57 per cent of those who had a natural labour in hospital, and 24 per cent of those who gave birth at home.
Mothers who had gone through traumatic labours said they had been left to cry themselves to sleep, while others said overstretched midwives had no time to offer a kind word of reassurance.
In total, 42 per cent said there were not enough midwives to care for them, compared with 33 per cent, when the question was posed in 2000.
Those who gave birth at home, or in a midwife-led birth centre, were less likely to describe shortages of midwives.
The NCT findings show that despite a large investment in maternity services, and pledges from the last Government to make care “woman-centred” with a choice of where to give birth, many women are being denied even basic care.
Among the poll of 1260 first time mothers, 44 per cent said they did not even get the physical help they needed, while 55 per cent said they did not get enough information or advice in the weeks after having their first child.
Anne Fox, the head of campaigns and public policy for the NCT, said; “It’s clear postnatal care urgently needs improvement – our report paints a dreadful, shocking picture of care in the UK – we’re letting women and their babies down.
“Many of the problems these women highlight seem to be due to staff shortages or lack of visits once they had left hospital – and this issue needs to be addressed if the quality of postnatal care is to be improved, particularly for vulnerable women.
In the report, new mothers describe being “absolutely terrified” and alone during their first night in hospital, frightened to ask for help from staff who responded to them rudely.
One mother said: “As soon as the baby was born, I felt I was on my own. I spent the first night after the birth of my son in floods of tears and unable to sleep as every time I closed my eyes the nightmare of my birth experience came flooding back.
“Nobody came to check on me to see if I was OK, even though I know I was sobbing loudly and uncontrollably.”
Louise Silverton, Deputy General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, described the report’s findings as “disappointing,” but said the study sent a compelling message to those in charge of NHS budgets, about the need to keep investing in maternity services.
Tags: labour, midwives, pregnancy, RCM, RCN, Sexual health