Everyone who gives birth should feel safe and heard

The Birth Trauma Inquiry report shows how much work is needed to prevent ’shocking and unacceptable’ experiences during labour and birth.

This week’s report on birth trauma, published by a group of MPs from different political parties after a Parliamentary inquiry, makes extraordinarily difficult reading.  

The scale of distress experienced by pregnant women and birthing people during and after labour, detailed throughout the report, is shocking and unacceptable. As the leading charity working to make pregnancy and birth safer for all, we are dismayed and disappointed by these findings.  

We want to flag that some of the following will be difficult reading if you are currently on your pregnancy journey.

The MPs’ report,  Listen to Mums: Ending the Postcode Lottery on Perinatal Care, received 1,311 personal submissions from parents.

Detailing some of the ‘key themes’ across those submissions, it says: “[The] words ‘pain’, ‘agony’, ‘screaming’ and ‘paracetamol’, ‘epidural’ and ‘finally’ were often clustered together...

“The words ‘forceps’, ‘bladder’, ‘stitches’, ‘incontinence’ and ‘surgery’ also appeared together, telling their own story.”

At Tommy’s, we’re funding vital research to help prevent complications that can lead to serious ill-health and harm women and birthing people and their babies.

Protecting the wellbeing of babies and their mother or birthing parent drives everything we do. This report shows just how much work is left to be done before every family has the same opportunity for a positive pregnancy and birth experience.

Amina Hatia, Midwifery Manager at Tommy’s, said: 

“We know from some of the people who contact our support service that birth trauma can have a devastating and lasting impact.

“It may make it harder for mothers and birthing parents to bond with their baby. Its effects can cause debilitating anxiety during subsequent pregnancies, or even deter people from becoming pregnant again.

“In some cases, it is physically and psychologically life-changing.

“Women and birthing people who have raised concerns about the safety of their baby when they are going into labour, or giving birth, have too often had their fears dismissed.  

“This report from the Birth Trauma Inquiry has brought these issues into the spotlight. We hope all of those with the power to change things will work together to end the devastation it continues to cause.”

We’ve set out what we believe UK policymakers must do to bring down stillbirth and neonatal death rates in a new report from the Sands and Tommy’s Joint Policy Unit, calling for ‘transformative change’ to save babies’ lives.

The Government has a duty of care to make sure maternity services are fit for purpose.  

That protection must extend to everyone when they are giving birth, no matter where they live, or where or how their baby is delivered.