Baby Loss Awareness Week: Midwife urges parents to share concerns in appointments
Today, October 9, sees the start of Baby Loss Awareness Week and it's estimated that one in four pregnancies in the UK end in loss during pregnancy or birth.
More than two thousand parents were asked about their most recent pregnancy experience in a YouGov survey.
The results revealed:
More than a quarter of expectant mothers (27%) said their pregnancy appointments felt too short or rushed, with more than 1 in 10 mums (13%) saying they felt unable to raise concerns which had previously been dismissed.
12% of partners felt their concerns were not welcome or too small to be raised and 7% of parents felt a sense of shame and embarrassment when wanting to ask questions to their healthcare professional.
One third of young parents under 24 years old, felt their background or ethnicity was a barrier in feeling able to raise concerns.
34% of parents felt they were not provided with easy access to their doctors and nurses causing 11% of parents to not have the confidence to raise their concerns with any healthcare professional.
“It is important to say that despite the unacceptable number of cases where things go wrong, the vast majority of people experience pregnancy and birth without any major issues and end with a healthy and much treasured new family member,” she said.
“Midwives and consultants do a tremendous job with the vast majority caring and compassionate, but they are often under pressure and that can lead to an atmosphere where people do feel a little reluctant to open up and ask questions.
"Prenatal visits can also be filled with excitement and emotion and this often also means parents forget to ask important questions or are too flustered to understand the answers.
“The best advice is to prepare a list of pregnancy questions on paper or in your head and write down any answers you want to refer back to.
"You should see eye to eye with your healthcare professional so try not to be afraid to ask or raise any concerns.
"Pregnancy has some embarrassing side effects and fears but your doctor is there to answer any pregnancy questions you may have and no question should be considered too silly or small.”
One mother, who wishes to remain anonymous, explained why she was left feeling unable to ask the questions she wanted.
She said: “As a first time mum there’s so many things I don’t understand. I’m feeling all these new things and sometimes they don’t make sense and I feel like something is really wrong. I understand that these healthcare professionals see parents day in and day out but each of us are having different experiences during pregnancy.
“There were so many questions I wanted to ask, especially with this being my first time, but felt like I was going to be judged a little for asking them, especially with the limited time I had during my appointments.”
Things to remember
Healthcare professionals may be busy, but they are there to care for you and your baby and will never judge you.
Think of questions beforehand, write them down and if you don’t feel comfortable speaking about any issue, pass the notes to your midwife.
Whilst you are there, record the conversation with your midwife if you feel you might forget something, so you can listen back to it at a later time.
No question is too silly or insignificant, share anything you are feeling or experiencing no matter how small.
If language or your religion is a barrier to conversations, bring along a friend or family member to support you .
SANDs #AlwaysThere campaign calls for all mothers, after loss, to be offered the same maternity team to care for them and their baby, through pregnancy, birth and afterwards.
Continuity of care contributes to improving the quality and safety of maternity care. High quality evidence indicates that women who receive care in these models are more likely to have effective care, a better experience and improved clinical outcomes.
Statistics suggest women receiving continuity of care are 19% less likely to lose their baby before 24 weeks and are 24% less likely to experience preterm birth.
Parents are also seven times more likely to be attended in labour by a midwife known to them, reducing the sense of embarrassment when asking questions in relation to their pregnancy, as well increasing their confidence and removing a sense of judgements being made.