Survey of new mothers highlights improvements

Professor Helen Cheyne
Professor Helen Cheyne
15 December 2015

The state of maternity care in Scotland has been examined by University of Stirling researchers working with the Scottish Government.

The national report Having a baby in Scotland 2015: Listening to Mothers documents the story of more than 2000 new mothers.

Produced in partnership by the Scottish Government and Stirling’s Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP RU) – it shows women are accessing care earlier in pregnancy with significantly more contacting a midwife first when they are pregnant.

Communication between women and maternity care staff appears to be good with most women reporting that they were listened to, spoken to in ways that they could understand and involved as much as they wanted in decisions about their care. The high level of trust women had in staff was evident, in particular during labour and birth.

Areas where care could be improved - particularly in relation to mental health - were highlighted, based on women’s responses to the survey.

Around one third of women felt that they were not given all the advice they needed about emotional changes they might experience and around one quarter were not given information about who to contact for advice about emotional changes if they needed it.

Additionally 44 percent of women said they did not get enough information to help them decide where to have their baby and 24 percent said they were not offered a choice about where to have their baby.

Report author Helen Cheyne, midwife and Professor of Midwifery Research in the NMAHP Research Unit at the University of Stirling said: “One of the most striking findings was around women’s mental health in the six weeks following birth. A recent report shows that almost a quarter of women who died between six weeks and one year following birth did so from mental health related causes. It is essential that all women and their families know the signs and symptoms of mental health problems following birth and who to contact if these occur.

“The report recommends that NHS Boards should examine whether local maternity and perinatal mental health services meet current best practice recommendations to support maternal mental health. All midwives, health visitors and medical staff caring for pregnant and postnatal women should undertake recognised training to ensure there is support for mothers who experience mental health problems.”

The report from the NMAHP Research Unit concludes with six recommendations including the appointment of post-natal care champions in every maternity hospital, ensuring one to one care of women by skilled midwives throughout labour and birth remains a priority and that all women should have choices about where their antenatal and postnatal care and place of birth happens.

 

Media enquiries to Corrinne Gallagher, Communications Officer, on 01786 466 687 or corrinne.gallagher@stir.ac.uk

Background information

The report ‘Having a baby in Scotland 2015: Listening to Mothers’ is available here.

The Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP) Commentary and Recommendations is available here.

The full statistical publication is available here.

Questionnaires were sent to a randomly selected sample of 5,025 women who gave birth in Scotland in February and March 2015.  Overall 2,036 questionnaires were returned giving a survey response rate of 41 percent.

The survey asked mothers about their experiences of maternity care starting from their initial contact with a health professional when pregnant through to the care received at home after the birth.

The 2015 Scottish Maternity Care Survey was undertaken by Quality Health Ltd and commissioned by the Scottish Government as part of the Scottish Care Experience programme. The findings have been presented in a report produced by the Chief Scientist Office funded Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP-RU) based in Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Stirling in collaboration with Scottish Government Health Analytical Services Division.

Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP)
Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP) is a multidisciplinary national research unit, funded by the Scottish Government health Directorate Chief Scientist office (CSO). It has academic bases within Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Stirling.

Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP)

University of Stirling
The University of Stirling is ranked fifth in Scotland and 40th in the UK for research intensity in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. Stirling is committed to carrying out research which has a positive impact on communities across the globe – addressing real issues, providing solutions and helping to shape society.

Interdisciplinary in its approach, Stirling’s research informs its teaching curriculum and facilitates opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration between staff, students, industry partners and the wider community.

At almost 50-years-young, Stirling retains a pioneering spirit and a passion for innovation. Its scenic central Scotland campus – complete with a loch, castle and golf course – is home to more than 11,000 students and 1400 staff representing 115 nationalities. This includes an ever-expanding base for postgraduate study.

www.stir.ac.uk

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