Have your say: help us drive change in postnatal care

Many parents aren’t getting the healthcare they need after birth, leaving some mums and dads struggling. Last November, we got together to try and work out how to improve this.

Outlining priorities

Left to right: Dr Judy Shakespeare, Elizabeth Duff, Professor Rona McCandlish (chair), Professor Debra Bick

The first few weeks of parenthood can be an overwhelming and lonely time. This is why we offer support and information to thousands of parents in the first weeks of parenthood, and through our local branches.

Sadly, we know from mums’ feedback that the care they receive from health services is not always as good as it might be. It might be that the healthcare given to new mums isn’t joined up, and/or that there aren’t enough healthcare professionals available to meet the needs of new parents.

In November 2019, we co-hosted a symposium looking at the ‘fragmented and under-resourced state of postnatal care’ in the UK. Professor Debra Bick and Dr Judy Shakespeare, as co-organisers, helped bring together 22 experts in the field to debate priorities and look at the best way of making change happen.

Identifying challenges

We started with reading the moving poem ‘post-partum’ by Hollie McNish (right) about a mum’s experience after birth. Health researchers and practitioners then told us how they think the health service could be improved and what challenges lie in the way.

Our outgoing Chief Executive Nick Wilkie and NCT colleagues Abi Wood, Sarah McMullen and Claire Maguire had their say, as well as the health professionals. We’re already trying to improve postpartum health care, including mental health care, with our current projects including postnatal courses, the #HiddenHalf campaign and peer-support programmes.

We’re looking closely at the points made by everyone who took part. These points include the need for better accountability and co-ordination in postnatal care. Clearer information about what are ‘normal’ occurrences in recovery from the birth experience is also essential, so that signs that something is wrong can be recognised more easily. Another priority is more all-round support for mums, dads and families to ensure their emotional wellbeing.

We’ll be in touch with UK governments to tell them our ideas and reinforce the need for radical re-thinking on postnatal care. Anyone with suggestions or innovative ideas please contact elizabeth.duff@nct.org.uk. These are incredibly important to us.

Further information

Our #HiddenHalf campaign is fighting for a more thorough six week GP check-up for new mums, so that emotional wellbeing can be discussed properly. Find out more here.

Read more about how you might be feeling after birth.