In House of Commons today, 19 October 2023, will be the first ever debate in history on the topic of birth trauma. The debate will be lead by Theo Clarke MP who is campaigning in relation to birth trauma following her daughter’s birth last year which she describes as the most terrifying experience of her whole life, when she thought she was going to die.
After 40 hours of labour, she was taken for emergency surgery due to a third degree tear without a general anaesthetic because she had had an epidural previously. She describes her aftercare as complete pandemonium. The MP is chairing an all party parliamentary group who have been set up to highlight and support women who have experienced birth trauma and to influence the UK Government’s Women’s Health Strategy.
Ms Clarke said that she did not want any mum to go through what she did, and to be lying in bed, pressing the emergency button for help and it not coming.
Having acted for numerous women who have suffered traumatic births and poor aftercare, we speak to many women who have suffer serious physical injuries and also extreme and long term psychological problems as a consequence of their experience. Many are put off having any more children. For those whose child is also injured during the birth or even dies, they carry guilt, believing that they are to blame. Often the suffering is compounded by the way the hospital manage the events, not offering explanation or an apology or investigating concerns raised by families affected.
The Birth Trauma Association charity says around 20,000 women a year develop postnatal traumatic stress disorder and that as many as 200,000 may feel traumatised by childbirth.
We welcome this landmark debate today – which coincides with the Erb’s Palsy Awareness week, and follows Baby Loss Awareness Week. It is strongly hoped that this campaign will bring about desperately needed improvements to our maternity services.
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