Birth Trauma Inquiry: Key points from the report

Parents caring for their baby
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This week saw the publishing of the long awaited first findings report of the Birth Trauma Inquiry the All Party Parliamentary Group on Birth Trauma titled “Listen to Mums: Ending Postcode Lottery on Perinatal Care”.

Chloe Oliver, the CEO of charity Masic that supports women who have suffered perineal tears during birth was one of the experts consulted during the inquiry.

The key deliverable agreed on the back of the inquiry was a call on the UK Government to publish a National Maternity Improvement Strategy, led by a new Maternity Commissioner who will report to the Prime Minister, which will outline ways to:

1. Recruit, train and retain more midwives, obstetricians and anaesthetists to ensure safe levels of staffing in maternity services and provide mandatory training on trauma-informed care.
2. Provide universal access to specialist maternal mental health services across the UK to end the postcode lottery.
3. Offer a separate 6-week check post-delivery with a GP for all mothers which includes separate questions for the mother’s physical and mental health to the baby.
4. Roll out and implement, underpinned by sufficient training, the OASI (obstetric and anal sphincter injury) care bundle to all hospital trusts to reduce risk of injuries in childbirth.
5. Oversee the national rollout of standardised post birth services, such as Birth Reflections, to give all mothers a safe space to speak about their experiences in childbirth.
6. Ensure better education for women on birth choices. All NHS Trusts should offer antenatal classes. Risks should be discussed during both antenatal classes and at the 34-week antenatal check with a midwife to ensure informed consent.
7. Respect mothers’ choices about giving birth and access to pain relief and keep mothers together with their baby as much as possible.
8. Provide support for fathers and ensure nominated birth partner is continuously informed and updated during labour and post-delivery.
9. Provide better continuity of care and digitise mother’s health records to improve communication between primary and secondary health care pathways. This should include the integration of different IT systems to ensure notes are always shared.
10. Extend the time limit for medical negligence litigation relating to childbirth from three years to five years.
11. Commit to tackling inequalities in maternity care among ethnic minorities, particularly Black and Asian women. To address this NHS England should provide funding to each NHS Trust to maintain a pool of appropriately trained interpreters with expertise in maternity and to train NHS staff to work with interpreters.
12. NIHR to commission research on the economic impact of birth trauma and injuries, including factors such as women delaying returning to work.

The themes were developed on the back of collating over 1200 submissions from birthing people that had a traumatic birth and 100 maternity professionals. The group raising the alarm for a country wide approach has been music to our ears as we see issues linked to all the highlighted themes rising time and time again in the experiences of people seeking our help.

Having represented thousands of women and birthing people over the years we have seen the big difference in the experience they have from one part of the country to another and often even from one maternity centre to another as there is no standard approach about the services or support available pre, during and post giving birth to them. It is also great to see them recognising the need to improve the services and support offered to black and black mixed origin women and birthing people recognising the higher risk they face in suffering a stillbirth or neonatal death or suffering a serious injury during childbirth.

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