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New mothers not provided with vital childbirth information, including mental health support
national | health / disability issues | press release Tuesday September 22, 2020 12:26 by Amanda Walsh - Gibson & Associates Solicitors
Mothers in Ireland are not being provided with the relevant information and support they need during and after childbirth and demand more control in the process, according to new survey data.
Mothers in Ireland are not being provided with the relevant information and support they need during and after childbirth and demand more control in the process.
In a survey of more than 500 mothers, almost half (49%) said they were not offered adequate mental health support before, during and after giving birth, while 39% said they did not feel they were given enough information and explanation on their recovery after giving birth.
The survey, commissioned by Dublin-based law firm Gibson & Associates Solicitors, also identified inadequacies with the mother being involved in key decisions related to childbirth. More than 44% admitted to not feeling involved in important decisions relating to the birth of their most recent child, with this number increasing to more than half (53%) among first-time mothers.
Amanda Walsh, Partner at Gibson & Associates Solicitors said: “Giving birth is a life-changing experience. All births are different and there can be no way of predicting what can happen, but it is vital that expectant mothers are involved and supported in the birthing process, in particular, when it comes to decisions about the method of delivery to be used.”
Despite 48% of mothers describing the care they received from maternity staff as ‘excellent’ and the majority (37%) saying their birth experience was ‘positive’, one-in-five (20%) had to undergo emergency Caesareans (C-sections) - a process used to aid the birth of a baby where there is an immediate concern for the health of the mother and/or baby.
An emergency C-section might be needed when labour goes on for much longer than normal, when the baby is in a position that makes it difficult to go ahead with vaginal delivery, when the mother is exhausted or if the mother has a health condition or infection that comes up during labour.
A tangled or compressed umbilical cord can also lead to the need for an emergency C-section, as well as problems with the placenta (for example, part or all of the placenta has come away from the lining of the womb) or a tear to the womb or uterus.
Amanda said: “Any kind of C-section is a major surgery that requires a room full of healthcare professionals and a great deal of organising. This means that when a patient needs an emergency C-section, a lot of doctors and nurses have to get ready faster than normal, which increases the chance of mistakes being made.
“In the vast majority of cases, mother and baby are completely well after a Caesarean operation. However, potential complications can arise immediately after the birth and in the recovery period, which can lead to long-term implications for the health of the parent, including serious mental health issues such as postnatal depression.
“Risks associated with C-sections include infection, heavy bleeding, blood clots and the inability to deliver vaginally in the future, while babies may suffer from accidental injuries and breathing problems. For that reason, a decision to undergo an emergency C-section should not be taken lightly and it is vital that these risks are adequately explained to mothers who undergo the procedure, particularly when it comes to making a full recovery.”
When survey respondents were invited to share their experiences with Gibson & Associates Solicitors, one respondent said: “I wasn’t aware of certain rules that were in place due to previously having an emergency C-section, including only being allowed to push for a certain amount of time before intervention”.
Another respondent said she was “pressured to have an epidural and only realised in hindsight that it was because [maternity staff] had made mistakes that led to an emergency C-section”. While another mother was not given much information from the hospital about recovery following a Caesarean and had to rely on advice from “friends who had been through a C-section”. Finally, a mother who had given birth three times before said she “was in control of nothing from beginning to end”.
When comparing the experience of mothers who have had a child in the last five years to those who have given birth more than five years ago, there have been improvements in information sharing and support. Over half (51%) of mothers who have given birth in the last five years said they received adequate information on the recovery process, compared to all new mothers (39%).
However, there has been no improvement in providing more mental health support.