British mothers are being let down: Almost a QUARTER are left ‘alone’ during childbirth as inspectors warn of ‘disappointing’ NHS care
- Nearly half of women feel like they aren’t given enough information after birth
- They would prefer to receive more advice on recovery and emotional changes
- The report by the Care Quality Commission said some survey results were ‘poor’
New mothers are being let down by the NHS, inspectors say, with their childbirth experiences ‘falling short’ in various ways.
Nearly one in four said they were left alone during labour, and almost half felt they were not given enough information about their recovery.
A report by the Care Quality Commission has today raised concerns about women being ‘disappointed’ by NHS maternity care.
It said there has been little improvement in recent years and hospitals need to listen more closely to mothers to work out what they can do better.
A report by the Care Quality Commission found there is room for improvement in the NHS’s maternity services, with women still having ‘disappointing’ experiences in some cases
The CQC found many women still have good experiences of childbirth. Some 88 per cent said they were always treated with respect and dignity, up from 86 per cent in 2015.
But it said care for women after they had given birth was below par in some cases.
Some 23 per cent of women said they were left alone during childbirth at a time when it worried them – a figure which hasn’t changed since 2017.
Only one in seven women saw their labour midwife again during antenatal care, while 24 per cent said the midwife they did see afterwards didn’t seem to know their medical history.
The survey was based on the experience of 17,611 women who gave birth in an NHS hospital in January or February 2018.
Just slightly more than half (53 per cent) of women felt they were given enough information about their recovery.
And 44 per cent said they didn’t think they were given enough advice on emotional changes they might experience.
‘The survey reveals a number of positive results, with support during antenatal check-ups and partner involvement showing encouraging upward trends,’ said Nigel Acheson, the CQC’s maternity lead.
‘However, the results also indicate that in other areas women’s experiences continue to fall short.
‘It is particularly disappointing to see that scores for questions about postnatal care remain poor – information provision, emotional support and communication after birth are all highlighted as areas where experiences could be improved.
‘Similarly, ensuring greater continuity of care for women through the whole maternal journey is an area where trusts need to focus their attention.
‘It is vital NHS trusts listen to and work with those who use maternity services to fully understand what is working well and what might need to improve.’
In the six weeks after birth, while 62 per cent of new mothers ‘definitely’ received advice from a midwife or health visitor about feeding their baby, almost four in 10 women only received this ‘to some extent’ or not at all.
A quarter of women said they were not able to get support or advice about feeding if they wanted it during evenings, nights or weekends – up from 22 per cent in 2017.
PAIN AFTER CHILDBIRTH COULD PREDICT POSTNATAL DEPRESSION
Persistent pain after childbirth may predict postpartum depression – even if a woman’s labor and delivery were not particularly painful, research suggested in October.
Doctors have long observed that pain related to childbirth was linked to depression afterwards, but had not been able to specify which period of pain was most closely associated with the potentially debilitating mental health condition.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, US, have uncovered that it is the post-birth period that needs special attention.
They advise that doctors need to make sure that women are not sent home to suffer in order to protect their physical and mental health.
Assistant Professor Dr Jie Zhou, who led the study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, said: ‘Our research suggests we need to focus more on helping new mothers manage pain after the baby is born.’