Birth Trauma Inquiry calls for new maternity strategy to address birth trauma

Posted By: Amy Tubb

13th May 2024

  • Report
  • Inequalities
  • Research
  • Midwifery
  • MMHA comment

2 minute read

In a groundbreaking report released today, the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Birth Trauma highlights the urgent need for a fundamental shift in the provision of maternity services across the United Kingdom. Drawing on over 1,300 submissions from individuals who have experienced traumatic births, as well as insights from nearly 100 maternity professionals, ‘Listen to Mums: Ending the Postcode Lottery on Perinatal Care’ unearths systemic failures and calls for bold reforms.

The key conclusion of the Inquiry's findings is the absence of a cohesive national strategy for maternity care. While various documents exist, they say a unified approach is lacking. The report advocates for the creation of a National Maternity Improvement Strategy, led by a new Maternity Commissioner who will report to the Prime Minister, ensuring continual updates and accountability.

Read the report
Over the past three months, we have been privileged to hear from parents from across the United Kingdom. They have trusted us with some of their most personal reflections and thoughts, often relating to deeply troubling memories and experiences. This, the first Parliamentary Inquiry into Birth Trauma, is as much their report as it is ours.

Theo Clarke MP and Rosie Duffield MP, Chair and Co-Chair of the APPG on Birth Trauma

Key recommendations

  1. Staffing and training: Urgent measures to recruit, train, and retain midwives, obstetricians, and anaesthetists to maintain safe staffing levels and provide mandatory training in trauma-informed care.

  2. Specialist perinatal mental health services: Universal access to specialised maternal mental health services to eradicate regional disparities.

  3. Enhanced postnatal care: Introducing a separate 6-week post-delivery check with GPs, encompassing both physical and mental health assessments for mothers.

  4. Injury prevention: Nationwide implementation of the OASI care bundle to mitigate injuries during childbirth.

  5. Supportive services: Standardised post-birth services, including Birth Reflections, to facilitate open dialogue and support for mothers.

  6. Education and informed consent about birth choices: Comprehensive antenatal classes should be offered, outlining risks, to ensure informed decision-making.

  7. Respect for birth choices: Upholding mothers' preferences regarding pain relief and birth methods and promoting mother-infant bonding.

  8. Dad and partner support: Continuous communication and support for nominated birth partners during labour and post-delivery.

  9. Continuity of care: Digitisation of health records to enhance communication between primary and secondary healthcare services.

  10. Legal redress: Extending the time limit for medical negligence litigation related to childbirth from three to five years.

  11. Addressing inequalities: Targeted efforts to tackle disparities in maternity care, particularly for Black and Asian women and birthing people, with a focus on interpreter services and staff training.

  12. Economic research: Commissioning research on the economic ramifications of birth trauma, including the impact on women's careers.

Today’s report signals a rallying cry for policymakers, healthcare providers, and society at large to prioritise maternal wellbeing and ensure that every mother and birthing person is met with dignity and support.

Our response

The Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA) supports the proposed reforms, which mirror much of what we have been calling for in recent years. It is essential that we build a maternity system centred on compassion, respect, and equity.

Commenting on the launch of the report, Chief Executive Officer of the MMHA, Laura Seebohm, said: “The recommendations in this report have the potential to fundamentally transform the physical and mental health of new parents and babies for generations to come. We are sad that it has not come soon enough for the huge number of women from across the UK who bravely shared their stories with the Inquiry. Their testimonies are at the heart of this groundbreaking report launched today.

“All of us at the MMHA will continue to do all we can to drive forward the recommendations alongside all the amazing politicians, policymakers, clinicians, and charities who are collectively committed to 'end the postcode lottery on perinatal care'.”

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