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Thursday, 2 August, 2001, 02:09 GMT 03:09 UK
New mothers 'neglected'
New mothers say the support they receive is not good enough
New mothers say the support they receive is not good enough
Almost one in five new mothers say they do not get the support they need from the NHS.

And half have felt depressed in the first six months after giving birth, with 58% of mothers under 25 and 63% of those who had caesareans feeling that way.

But one in three of those who had been depressed said they had received little or no help.

Over a thousand women were questioned by Practical Parenting magazine and the National Childbirth Trust (NCT).


For too many women in the UK, becoming a parent is memorable for the wrong reasons

Belinda Phipps,
NCT
Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the NCT, said: "This new research bears out previous evidence that for too many women in the UK, becoming a parent is memorable for the wrong reasons - as a time of incredible fear and disillusionment."

One in three mothers who had had caesareans said the aftercare was "appalling".

One woman said: "The poor care I received in hospital has really put me off having another baby. If I thought I could afford it, I'd go privately next time."

One in four said midwives gave poor or not very good care.

The worst verdict was from one mother who said her midwife was "spiteful and uncaring".

One in three were unhappy with their doctor.

Others complained about having lots of different staff caring for them, often giving out inconsistent, or even contradictory advice.

Advice

Mothers said they wanted advice on how to care for their new babies.

Two thirds wanted to know about feeding, almost half wanted more information about sleep and exhaustion and 41% hoped to be told more about feelings of anxiety, tearfulness and depression.

A third are also bothered about stitches and going to the toilet, as well as coping day to day.

One in four had had a caesarean, increasing to one in three for mothers over 35.

Community based midwives won praise in the survey, with 86% saying the support they had been given was either good or very good.

Four out of five said the midwife's visits after the birth were "helpful and reassuring".

However most relied on friend and family for support in the days after the birth, with new dads getting a special mention.

Sixty per cent had helped around the house, and changed nappies and cared for the baby.

'Worrying'

Jane Kemp, acting editor of Practical Parenting, said: "The way you're treated after having a baby makes a huge difference to how you feel about yourself and your confidence as a mother, and it is very worrying to find so many of our readers reporting upsetting, even traumatic treatment in hospital postnatal wards throughout the country."

Belinda Phipps of the NCT said the trust wanted to see more midwives to support mothers after birth, and a recognition of the importance of postnatal care and support, including help with breastfeeding.

Melanie Every of the Royal College of Midwives backed calls for more midwives and said: "We are delighted that 86% of the women surveyed said that their community midwife gave them good support; now we have to make sure that continued staff shortages do not prevent women from enjoying the same high quality care when in hospital."

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
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