Summary of report content
Healthwatch Warrington undertook research into maternity services and the experiences of women from Warrington who have recently given birth. The project looked at the information and support that women were given before and after the births of their babies. They did a survey to which they had 40 responses and collected 5 detailed case studies.
Overall, people’s experience was largely positive and there were examples of good practice around support by professionals in the community before and after the birth of their babies as well as positive experiences within the hospital.
Most respondents felt that they had good advice to have a healthy pregnancy. Some respondents would have liked more information on what to expect after they returned home with their baby and how to care for their baby at home.
Whilst feedback about midwives both in the community and in the hospital was generally positive it was clear from feedback that having continuity of a midwife could make a positive difference to the experience of the expectant mother.
Having a choice of where they gave birth led to a positive experience. Women said that it gave them control and helped them to feel relaxed. However, those who did not feel they had a choice also said that they did not feel it had made a difference to their experience.
Having a birth plan was a matter of choice and not all the respondents had one. Having a discussion on the pros and cons of having a birth plan with a professional seemed to have helped the decision making for some.
Most respondents to the survey felt that they had been treated with dignity and respect, however one respondent to the survey and one of the case study participants shared stories about a breakdown in dignity and the impact that this had on them. This suggests that there are occasions where staff need to have more consideration about the way that they work and interact with expectant mothers to ensure that their dignity is maintained.
The way that the fathers of babies are treated and included was an issue for a small number of respondents. Whilst it was generally felt that partners, families and friends were treated with respect there were suggestions for improvement in the way that fathers were interacted with as well as the facilities that are available to them on the ward.
Although feedback about their experiences at the hospital and on the labour ward was positive, some of the respondents to the survey felt that there could have been better care and communication in some circumstances. This included checking if mothers who had recently given birth needed pain relief or refreshments when they were being moved from ward to ward at different times of the day. Being provided with refreshments after the birth of their baby was a particularly positive experience and the lack of it as an area for improvement. Whilst this may seem to be a relatively small thing to the staff it can make a positive difference to the experience of a patient.
One of the key areas suggested for improvement by respondents was around the provision of support with feeding whilst in hospital. It was felt that there should be more in hospital for all mothers who wanted it, regardless of whether it was their first child or not.
There were five recommendations on:
- Continuity of midwives
- Dignity and respect
- Advice and guidance on feeding
- Further collection of feedback