‘Ignored’ mums at risk of birth trauma

Many mums suffering birth trauma feel they weren’t ‘listened to’ during birth, says CEO of Birth Trauma Association

Birth Trauma Awareness Week

Kim Thomas, CEO of the Birth Trauma Association (BTA), has highlighted how the majority of mums suffering from birth trauma felt that medical staff didn’t respect their wishes or keep them informed during labour.

Sometimes (women in labour) have had procedures performed without consent

Speaking shortly before Birth Trauma Awareness Week, which ran from July 7 to 14, Ms Thomas explained that this feeling of not being heard was a contributing factor to later developing birth trauma. This can also be known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after birth.

She told the The Herald Scotland: ‘The majority of women – probably around three quarters – tell us that they felt the way they were treated during labour was a big contributor to them developing PTSD.

‘Things like not being told what was going on when there was an emergency, being treated very coldly or shouted at even. Sometimes they’ve had procedures performed without consent.’

‘And not being listened to as well. So sometimes women will say “I told them there was something wrong and there were very dismissive.” ‘Then the woman has been proved right and there is something wrong.’

NCT comment

Responding to these comments, Elizabeth Duff, NCT’s Senior Policy Adviser, says: ‘The 2018 Scottish Maternity Survey found around one in five women reported that they were worried at being left alone during labour or birth and one in ten described their concerns as not taken seriously by staff.

‘The Care Quality Commission in England carries out a similar annual survey and its latest findings reflect many of the same concerns.

‘These sorts of experiences, often the results of an overstretched midwifery workforce, can lead to women feeling powerless and not involved in decisions about their treatment.

‘For some women, this perception will exacerbate the risks of a traumatic birth and consquent mental health problems such as PTSD.’

Further information

Read our Q&A with Kim Thomas explaining more about birth trauma and who is at risk.

Find out more about how you can support your partner after birth trauma.

The Birth Trauma Association is a charity that supports women who are suffering from birth trauma. Get in contact with them or take a look at their website.