During Spring/Summer 2019 we spoke to parents and healthcare professionals about birth trauma. Our survey showed 30% of new mums suffering from mental and/or physical trauma following their birth, are not being given the support they need to cope. These findings were the first step in reflecting what might be happening on a larger scale in the UK – which could potentially affect 200,000 women in Britain each year. You can read our report here
But this is before we were hit by a pandemic.
From our study we were able to draw some other strong conclusions – namely that professionals, partners and children are deeply affected by birth trauma too. Many midwifery and obstetric staff are affected by vicarious trauma because of the events they have seen, the conditions they are working in and a lack of emotional support. But again, this is pre-Covid-19. Now, our concern is that trauma will skyrocket for families and staff.
We stand by the conclusions and calls to action we put forward in our original report. However, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, we need to talk specifically about how to tackle the traumatic events unfolding right now. There will be a new wave of trauma in the months ahead and we must be ready for it. Which is why trauma is more important than ever to prevent, recognise and treat. And we need your help.
OUR #THINKTRAUMANOW CAMPAIGN
Make Birth Better are calling out to parents(to-be), frontline workers and everyone else who cares passionately about changing the system around birth to join our mission. To take a stand, and urge policy makers to think about trauma prevention and treatment. Now, more than ever.
What are we asking you to do?
1. Write to your MP
2. Share our campaign on social media
3. Share and complete our surveys for parents (to be) and professionals
As part of #thinktraumanow we call for everyone to contact their local MP to ask them how they will ensure that local maternity services are ring-fenced and how will they prioritise trauma prevention now, as well as trauma-focused treatment later. You are welcome to use our draft email as a template, but we would urge you to add information about why this is important to you personally.
We also encourage everyone to download and share our #thinktraumanow Instagram tile together with a picture of them hitting the send button on the email to their MP.
You can save the tile from the image here or look at our Instagram feed @birthbetter
Finally, we are collecting data and insights on the impact Covid-19 is having on the choices available to parents-to-be. Share with us how you are and how you are experiencing the situation by completing a quick survey. If you are a maternity professional click here, if or are pregnant or have recently given birth click here. We would be grateful if you would share these surveys.
OUR RECOMMENDATIONS AND CALLS TO ACTION
As we said, we stand by the conclusions and calls to action we put forward in our original report. However, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, we want to be clear on our recommendations and calls to action for NHS leaders and policy makers.
1. We need to focus on prevention as much as possible now. How we do this?
On our social media channels, we are highlighting birth stories where women felt ‘held’, supported and empowered, and examples of maternity staff and services providing person-centred, collaborative care despite unusual circumstances.
2. Recognition of symptoms must be timely and we must start now. We expect for the peak in trauma-related symptoms to come in the months, and years, ahead. It is imperative that we acknowledge the trauma impact on both parents and professionals through monitoring and support in the short term.
3. There must be access to specialist, evidence-based, trauma-focused care for all which includes both parents and birth professionals in the long-term.
OUR CALLS TO ACTION
National and local NHS leaders must:
1. Address trauma prevention for maternity staff and parents.
2. Think long-term about trauma treatment for maternity staff and parents in the future.
3. Act on the requests from Birthrights and The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) for maternity services to be ringfenced and for all women to be offered a safe and positive childbirth experience and ensure that new NHS England clinical guidance is followed
We will be sharing these recommendations and calls to action as far and wide as possible through the Make Birth Better network and with the UK media too. Updates on this work will be published in our newsletter. Please sign up here if you haven't already. Thank you for joining us in the #thinktraumanow campaign and as ever, please contact us directly if you have any comments, questions or ideas: firstname.lastname@example.org