Think Trauma Now - The Make Birth Better Survey 2019. The circle of trauma for parents and professionals

The Make Birth Better Report was published in April 2020. During Spring/Summer 2019 they spoke to parents and healthcare providers about birth trauma. Their survey showed 30% of new mums suffering from mental and/or physical trauma following their birth, are not being given the support they need to cope. These findings were the first step in reflecting what might be happening on a larger scale in the UK – which could potentially affect 200,000 women in Britain each year. As they say this was before we were hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Please see www.makebirthbetter.org/thinktrauma now for more details of the report.

AIMS is pleased to see this report which highlights the impact of issues in the Maternity Services which result in users of the services suffering birth trauma. We continue to be shocked by the way professionals working both in hospitals and the community have not had the training they need to identify and treat birth trauma.

AIMS hears from people regularly that their right to make informed decisions about interventions during pregnancy and birth are being undermined and that there is such a lot of unkindness and threats made within the maternity services. We also know that many working in the service are also struggling with a culture which allows this to continue. This is, undoubtedly, leading to more birth trauma. We have also been aware for many years of the bullying culture which exists in some services. (www.aims.org.uk/journal/item/traumatised-midwives)

We fully support Make Birth Better’s conclusion that Continuity of Carer, which is part of the Maternity transformation process in England needs to be taken very seriously and instigated fully throughout the service, to better serve everyone who uses the maternity services which AIMS is confident will help prevent birth trauma. We recognise that the needs of the staff will also be better met with properly provisioned Continuity of Carer - which means continuity of a known and trusted carer through pregnancy, birth and beyond - leading to a much kinder service all round, and one which provides midwives with a better work experience and life work balance. We agree that maternity service provision for those who have suffered birth trauma must be improved as a matter of priority.

AIMS is about to publish three new books. The first The AIMS Guide to Resolution after Birth deals directly with dealing with difficult birth experiences and aims to signpost maternity services users to the different options available, from different possibilities of support to making a complaint. Guest authors in the book include Elizabeth Prochaska and Maria Booker from Birthrights, Liz Thomas from AvMA, Clea Harmer from Sands and of course, Dr Rebecca Moore from Make Birth Better.

The second The AIMS Guide to Induction of Labour reviews the evidence for Inducing labour in different situations, and set out the options and rights when Induction is suggested. Whilst the third looks at “The AIMS Guide to Safety in Childbirth” delves into what that means and whose perspectives of safety are dominating the maternity services. AIMS knows that many women are being coerced into interventions, rather than being supported to make informed decisions which are right for them, and believes that this is leading to much avoidable trauma.

AIMS thanks Make Birth Better for their detailed work on birth trauma and will continue to work with them and Birthrights to attempt to limit the growing instances of birth trauma. We endorse the call to action and will encourage our members, in particular, to write to their local commissioners and MPs. AIMS will use their social media presence to encourage this action.

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