Birth Trauma Report

Welcoming a new baby should be an exciting time for most families, but unfortunately the joyous occasion of childbirth can be marred by avoidable birth trauma due...
UK Food, Drugs, Healthcare, Life Sciences
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Welcoming a new baby should be an exciting time for most families, but unfortunately the joyous occasion of childbirth can be marred by avoidable birth trauma due to poor care from the doctors and midwives involved. A recent parliamentary report has highlighted the impact that birth trauma can have and the postcode lottery of maternity care in the UK.

The report sets out that recent inspections by the Care Quality Commission have resulted in almost half of the maternity units in the England being rated as 'inadequate' or 'requires improvement'. It also found that 4 – 5% of women develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) every year following childbirth, and around a third of women would describe childbirth as being traumatic. The report highlights some common themes experienced by mothers across the country, including:

  • A failure to listen
  • A lack of informed consent
  • Poor communication
  • A lack of pain relief
  • A lack of kindness
  • Poor postnatal care
  • Injuries resulting in complaints and medical negligence.

As a medical negligence solicitor, it's imperative to shed light on this issue and advocate for improved standards of care to ensure all mothers receive the support and attention they deserve during one of the most significant moments of their lives.

The postcode lottery in maternity care refers to the significant differences in the quality and accessibility of services based on where a woman lives. While some areas benefit from state-of-the-art facilities and well-staffed maternity units, other areas continue to struggle with underfunding, staff shortages, and outdated equipment. These discrepancies can have profound consequences, leading to adverse outcomes and, in some cases, causing injuries to both mother and baby.

Whether due to a failure to listen to the mother, a lack of communication, or inadequate support during labour, birth trauma can cause lasting damage to a woman's physical and mental health. From severe perineal tears and postpartum haemorrhage to untreated mental health conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); the repercussions of birth trauma can be profound and far-reaching. Additionally, those who have suffered lasting damage, or are carers for children left disabled by birth injuries, can relive their trauma every single day as they are forced to adjust to life dealing with injuries which are often entirely preventable.

At Ellisons Solicitors, we are committed to holding healthcare providers accountable for instances of substandard care and advocating for justice on behalf of mothers who have experienced birth trauma and their children who have been left disabled as a result of inadequate maternity care.

Moving forward, it is essential for policymakers, healthcare professionals, and advocacy groups to work collaboratively to address the root causes of birth trauma. This includes allocating adequate resources, implementing evidence-based practices, and prioritising the voices and needs of expectant mothers.

We also welcome the proposals to implement a new 5-year limitation period (extended from the current 3 years) for those affected by injuries during childbirth to ensure that there is adequate time for these claims to be investigated. When caring for a newborn baby or young child, three years is often not long enough for women to process what has happened to them and be able to share their trauma with a solicitor.

If you or a loved one feel that you experienced birth trauma or injuries arising from substandard maternity care then our Medical Negligence team are here to offer support, guidance, and legal representation to help you seek justice and compensation. At Ellisons, we understand the sensitive nature of these cases and approach each client with compassion, empathy and understanding to guide you through the legal process.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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