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September 11th 2020

Birth Negligence

Campaign calls on parents to share experiences of birth trauma in bid to improve care and compassion on maternity wards

Campaign calls on parents to share experiences of birth trauma in bid to improve care and compassion on maternity wards

Birth Trauma Awareness Week commenced this week, an annual event which looks to support parents who have experienced birth trauma and campaigns to improve maternity care across the UK.

Birth Trauma Awareness Week commenced this week, an annual event which looks to support parents who have experienced birth trauma and campaigns to improve maternity care across the UK.

It is a campaign we wholeheartedly support at Hudgell Solicitors given the work we do helping families affected by birth injury and baby loss.

Giving birth should not be a traumatic experience, yet according to research, around 30,000 women experience birth trauma in the UK each year (also known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following birth).

The Birth Trauma Association says a recent survey of hundreds of women who suffered in this way has revealed ‘a shocking lack of care of women during labour and birth’.

It found that 87% of women who suffered from PTSD after birth cited poor communication as a cause of their trauma, with 36% citing unkindness from staff. A quarter of those questioned said having procedures carried out without consent was also a cause of trauma.

It is these figures which has led to chief executive Kim Thomas calling for increased staffing on maternity wards, and more compassion toward those who endure difficult births.

“Our results reveal a shocking lack of care of women during labour and birth,” she said.

“Most of the women experienced difficulties in giving birth, often resulting in the baby being born by forceps or emergency caesarean. It is striking, however, that the most commonly cited reasons for developing PTSD relate to poor communication and lack of care from staff.

“While we would like to see the government address chronic under-staffing in the NHS, we also believe that kindness costs nothing, and we call on the NHS to foster a culture of maternity care in which women are treated with compassion and dignity during childbirth.”

Campaigns to improve maternity training supported by Hudgells team

In our work at Hudgell Solicitors we see both sides of maternity care and have campaigned alongside the mother and baby charity Baby Lifeline for standardised maternity training across the UK, and for the reinstatement of the national maternity training scheme.

Solicitor Tasmin White, of Hudgell Solicitors, supports people in relation to birth injury compensation claims and said: “There will sadly always be cases where exceptional circumstances means a birth can become a difficult experience, both physically and emotionally.

“On the majority of those occasions it is the dedication and skills of maternity staff which ensure parents thankfully return home with healthy new additions to their families.

“However, in our work we also see far too many cases where women and babies suffer avoidable trauma and injury due to a lack of appropriate care, either during their pregnancy, when in labour or when giving birth.

“Emergency situations are too often allowed to develop from circumstances where better and more appropriate management of the pregnancy would have avoided it. On many occasions we also see mothers and babies put at increased risk of injury when required actions are taken too late.

“It is interesting to see the large number of mothers who have cited poor communication and lack of kindness as a reason for their trauma.

“It is paramount – and a legal requirement – that mothers are fully informed of any decisions which are being made over their treatment and the delivery methods of their babies. To all of a sudden find any decisions are taken from them can be daunting and frightening.

“Communication is key throughout pregnancy. A lack of effective communication is common in the cases we see where sadly things have gone wrong, but could have been avoided.”

Awareness week considers the ‘path to healing, justice and closure’

This year’s Birth Trauma Awareness Week, led by the Birth Trauma Association, runs from September 7th to 13th.

It is focussed on people’s journeys through the after-effects of birth trauma, including the path to healing (both physically and mentally), coming to terms with a rocky journey into motherhood, coping with relationship changes such as partner intimacy and baby bonding and finding justice and closure.

To spread the message, it is encouraging people with a personal experience of birth trauma to share something about their own journey, or share statistics and facts about the matter to raise awareness.

Under its #babystepschallenge social media campaign, people are being asked to share pictures of a pair of their shoes next to those of their child, to represent the baby steps of recovering from birth trauma.

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