Maternity Care is an incredibly personal and intimate experience, whether you are a new mum or a seasoned veteran, all pregnancies, childbirths and aftercare come with their own worries and concerns and in this vulnerable time you are reliant on support, as well as good maternity care. We have teamed up with Your Legal Friend to discuss what great maternity care looks like and examples of bad experience to help you understand your rights as a mum to be.
Your first point of contact, The Midwife:
“I never saw the same midwife twice throughout my pregnancies”
– Sarah, Boo, Roo & Tigger Too
Why is it important? Well not only does it make your pregnancy more personal and enjoyable, pregnancy is essentially a medical condition and at nine months long, an ongoing one. With all ongoing medical conditions, you need consistent care. Having consistent care and your medical professional getting to know you and your pregnancy means they can pick up on red flags quickly, preventing medical negligence cases.
“I hear about some of my friends having mobile numbers to text their midwives and I am so envious! In the early stages of my pregnancy, it was impossible to get hold of anyone. When I had bleeding in my first few weeks I couldn’t get hold of anyone as I wasn’t given a phone number and the number I managed to find just rang through.”
– Georgina, Georgina Clarke Blog
It was also found that although 98% of women said they had a telephone number for a midwife or midwifery team that they could contact but 26% of women were not always able to get the help they wanted, and only 20% received help sometimes and 6% reported that they were not able to get the help they needed.
Aftercare, not Afterthought:
“My health visitor forgot about visiting us 3 times! They were meant to monitor us closely to make sure K didn’t have to go back because of his jaundice and his reaction to some tablets I was on during pregnancy! I felt so let down and still do! It’s one of the factors of why I’m not having any more children! Didn’t have much joy whilst in hospital either, when I got rushed in a few times with severe gallbladder pain they thought I was making it up until 1 doctor actually wanted to scan it and just after birth I was kept in for a week and the never had any gluten free food I could eat so they didn’t even attempt to order any for me. Also they just sort of let us on our own when K was in an incubator and wheeled him off for tests every hour or so without explaining anything, made me so emotional and stressed I locked myself in the toilet and cried!”
– Chelsey, Cece Lauren
Chelsey isn’t the only one left feeling this way after the care she received. 14% said their postnatal ward experience ‘made them think twice’ about having more children & 5% said it had ‘contributed to a decision not to have any more children. Negligence during post-natal care can be a contributing factor in serious mental health conditions such as PTSD or post-natal depression.
“My post natal care was pretty rubbish with my 3rd. I had a HV who when asking the mental health questions told me that ‘I was not feeling down’. I was diagnosed with PND when he was 9 months & battled up until he was 4 and a half months old to get him diagnosed with cows milk protein intolerance. I should add that I am now a HV and my experiences have shaped me as a HV!”
– Emma, The Kingers & I
Unacceptable Care Stories:
“My maternity care with my second son was horrendous. I was made out to be neurotic when I voiced concerns about my sons well being, fobbed off with “reassurance scans” and told that everything was fine. He was stillborn at full term and later the consultants admitted that vital warning signs had been over looked.”
– Laura, Five Little Doves
“First was absolutely horrific fobbed off as a new inexperienced mother. Second time I had to pay privately to get a level of care I would have expected to be the norm. It was a vastly different relaxed and attentive experience.”
– Laura, The Mamma Fairy
It’s not always obvious that you have suffered or experience from medical negligence but if you feel you have experienced clinical negligence during your pregnancy you can click here for more information.
Knowledge is Power
This blog post isn’t designed to scare, but to help you understand your rights and the responsibilities of healthcare providers. Having information will allow you to ask the right questions and also challenge poor care before a case of medical negligence arises. Here are some examples of great maternity care and happy pregnancies.
“I have to say I got the best maternity care I could have asked for. We were at a birth centre and the midwives were so helpful. I don’t think I’d have breastfed at all without their help on that first day. And my overnight midwife who left at 7am (baby boy born at 10:30am) came back to meet him, which really did mean a lot that she took time out of her day to come meet him and see how we were doing.”
– Rachel, The Illustrated Teacup
“The care I had with my second was absolutely amazing. I saw the same midwife throughout, and it was just luck that when I arrived in labour I crossed her in the corridor. She took over my care instantly and helped deliver our baby boy (although she didn’t have to do much as he was born so fast!). She stayed for ages during our 5 day checkup too, and did the heel prick at our house so we didnt have to go back to the hospital! I loved her!”
– Emily, Emily & Indiana
“My son was born prematurely and his birth happened seriously fast at Princess Anne in Southampton. I only knew I was in labour for an hour before he was born, and the pushing was pretty traumatic as his heartbeat fell through the floor. Our midwife and a student midwife did everything they could to reassure us that everything was cool, when they told us afterwards that they were bricking it. They calmed us at a petrifying time, and laughed with us at the absurdity of it all. They were two of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met and that’s what I remember above all else from that day. Once we were in neonatal, I made a friend for life in one of the nurses who not only saved me and my sanity, but saved my son too. It may not have been ‘the plan’ but I owe them all so much.”
– Ursula, Mumbelievable
*This post is in collaboration with Your Legal Friend to empower mums to be of their rights during pregnancy.