BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Health
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Background Briefings 
Medical notes 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Dani Zur, editor of
"Women aren't getting the kind of level of one-on-one care that they need"
 real 28k

Thursday, 22 March, 2001, 11:15 GMT 12:15 UK
Maternity services 'fail new mums'
New mums are unhappy with NHS services
New mums are unhappy with NHS services
Many women are unhappy with maternity services, a survey has found.

The research, by questioned 2,000 mothers in the UK.

It found less than half would be happy to go back to the same hospital to give birth. Two out of 10 would never go back.

Many women feel they have gone through a conveyor-belt birth experience to suit the hospital's agenda

Sarah Stone,
And 43% said they had not had the kind of birth they wanted.

A quarter had a caesarean, and a third of those who had a normal birth were induced.

Midwifery services also come in for criticism, with only 4% of pregnant women able to see the same midwife at each antenatal appointment, and have her present at the birth.

But eight out of 10 women said the hard-pressed maternity staff they did see had been sympathetic and kind.

A quarter said they had been "unnecessarily alarmed" by medical staff while they were pregnant.

Sarah Stone, editor of, and a mother of a three-year-old, said: "This survey is a sad testament to the treatment many women receive in Britain's maternity wards today.

"Over-stretched maternity staff simply don't have the time to provide the sort of quality care pregnant women need and expect.

"As a result, many women feel they have gone through a conveyor-belt birth experience to suit the hospital's agenda."

Dani Zur, editor of Mother and Baby magazine told the BBC: "


Three-quarters of the new mums questioned said they felt anxious during their pregnancy.

And 53% said they had been worried by antenatal tests, although 85% of women have them.

Having a baby is now seen as a "high-tech" experience.

Pregnant women now have an average of four scans, compared to three two years ago.

Virtually all women want a hospital birth, with only 8% choosing a home delivery.

The pain of labour was hidden, according to 74% of those quizzed.

They said giving birth had been "more painful than imagined and 71% said they were frightened.

Over half said it was more shocking than they had thought.

After the birth, 79% said they were in pain for an average of two weeks, and a third were in severe pain.

Over half criticised the standards of postnatal care.

A minority of 14% said they had suffered from postnatal depression - lasting, on average, around six months, but only a third had asked for professional help.

Two-thirds try to breast feed, but half say they had to give up.

Considerate fathers

And a couple's sex life is on hold until an average of eight weeks after the baby is born, though 82% say, even then, their sex life has deteriorated since they became parents.

Dads-to-be are shown to be considerate by the survey. Over half become "more considerate and kind", and 49% do more housework.

Ninety-four per cent were present for the birth, and although 20% felt "queasy", 89% of mums said their presence had been a "big help".

After the birth, two thirds are happy to change the nappies, but a quarter feel neglected.

Belinda Phipps, of the National Childbirth Trust, said: "This survey makes depressing reading.

"It bears out the evidence of our own surveys that, far from being a memorable time, for far too many women in the UK, pregnancy and childbirth is a time of incredible anxiety, fear and disillusionment."

Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said: "The concerns of mothers outlined in the survey do support our own assessments of the problems linked to the shortage of midwives and the lack of investment in maternity care.

"We are pleased to see the government is tackling this issue by developing a national service framework for maternity services and supporting the RCM's work in rolling-out Birthrate Plus - a tailor-made workforce planning package for maternity services."

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

13 Mar 01 | Health
Sleepless nights lay new mums low
18 May 00 | Health
Diary of a new mother
25 Sep 98 | Health
Mum's the word
01 Apr 00 | Health
Heavy work 'bad for childbirth'
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories