Best Day of Your Life?

New survey from the Birth Trauma Association reveals that almost 70 per cent of women do not get the birth experience they want

It’s supposed to be the happiest day of a new mother’s – and father’s life. But a new survey of more than 600 women from the Birth Trauma Association has revealed that for many new parents, it’s the worst. If you spent most of your maternity leave in a state of shock, or battled post natal depression after a difficult birth experience, read on to find out more.

Despite government policy to promote choice, 69.3 per cent of respondents said they did not get the birth they wanted. One-third said they were not treated with dignity and respect, and were not given proper information and/or explanations during their labour.

I know when I gave birth to  my daughter the night in the post natal ward left me feeling out of control as I struggled to communicate with busy staff, and I’m not alone. Many people responding to the survey cited ‘loss of control’ and ‘lack of communication’ as key factors in how they felt about their births afterwards. Some respondents said they felt ‘bullied’ or ‘harrassed’ by  overstretched staff. Many felt ignored on the post-natal ward and said attempts to get an explanation for what went wrong were dismissed.

All these factors are known to contribute towards both post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following birth and post-natal depression (PND). It is estimated that, in the UK alone, 10,000 women develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As many as 200,000 more women may feel traumatised by childbirth and develop some of the symptoms of PTSD.

Birth Trauma Awareness Day on August 21 2010 seeks to raise awareness of this condition. Mums replying to the survey said:

“My daughter’s birth and subsequent days were some of the worst of my life and I still have nightmares about them. I had a complete loss of control and no one ever really communicated what was going on or why at any point.”

“The worst day of my life, was over three years ago, still have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), not taken seriously by GP, tried to complain to hospital, no explanation given. I still think about it every day. It has ruined my life, I feel it will be the end of me.”

“Having my daughter was the most traumatic experience of my life – because the decision to deliver my baby was made so suddenly, there was no time to fully comprehend the information that was being given to me at the time.”

“Worst experience of my life, with the best outcome, I have my boy.”

“It was the worst day of my life and I’m still trying to come to terms with it.”

Maureen Treadwell, co-founder of the Birth Trauma Association, commented: “It is a tragedy that so many women are left traumatised by their experience of childbirth. Poor maternity care impacts on women, children and their families and has huge social and ultimately financial costs. The same issues arise again and again – we know the problems, let us hope that this new government will find solutions.”

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