Time to shine a light on birth trauma
Despite up to 20,000 women a year experiencing a traumatic birth and its damaging consequences, many are left to suffer alone and in silence.
More needs to be done to educate expectant mothers on the medical care they are entitled to and what to expect from their midwife.
Speaking ahead of Birth Trauma Awareness Week, Diane Rostron, Blackpool-based birth injuries medical negligence solicitor, said society needed to shine a light on a devastating issue that was too often ignored.
“Birth trauma affects far too many women as maternity care often falls short of the required standards. It leaves many with physical and mental scars that can last a lifetime,” she said, adding that the awareness week was an opportunity to offer support to affected families and their children.
This year’s event will run from July 1 to 8 and will highlight the significant damage traumatic birth can cause new mums and their families. It has been coordinated by the Birth Trauma Association (BTA).
“Each year, up to 20,000 women go through a traumatic birth experience and suffer the often long-lasting impact this has on their physical and mental health, their ability to bond with their baby and their relationships with their family and friends,” said the charity.
It added that women suffering with PTSD were often misdiagnosed with post-natal depression thanks to a “gross misunderstanding” of the nature of the two conditions.
“Women tell us that they are frequently told by their healthcare professionals that they should try and 'move on' with their lives or that they should just be grateful that they have a healthy baby.”
Diane said these conversations only served to exacerbate the feelings of guilt and isolation women already felt.
“Birth trauma is entirely preventable in many cases and we hear time and again from clients that medical staff simply ignored their requests when instinct told them something was wrong,” she said.
“Delayed action or inadequate monitoring of mother and baby during this critical time can lead to devastating injuries and there will be families who continue to suffer alone and in silence.”
She went on to say that educating women on the standards of care they have a right to expect during pregnancy and labour is key, as is ensuring adequate staffing levels and continued training in maternity units.
People are now starting to speak out, she added, and events such as Birth Trauma Awareness Week are helping with that.
“There has been much recent media attention and openness from women who feel more comfortable about talking about the issue. Sadly, many have admitted that once they’ve experienced birth trauma, they’ve been too scared to have more children.”
To mark the week, the BHA is asking supporters to hold teddy bear picnics to raise funds for its work. It will also host Twitter chats every evening from July 2 to July 6 on subjects including birth injuries, bonding and attachment, tokophobia and planned caesarean section.
“Birth trauma does not end in the labour ward. But help is out there and it’s so important that the issue remains in the spotlight until the number of incidents is reduced,” said Diane.
For more information about Diane Rostron, Blackpool based birth injuries medical negligence solicitor, visit her website