WEEKLY COLUMN of Stroud MP Siobhan Baillie 

This week saw the publication of a major parliamentary report about birth trauma that made for difficult reading.

My colleagues Theo Clarke and Rosie Duffield worked with the Birth Trauma Association to compile the report that heard evidence from 1300 women and many experts.

It has made many recommendations to improve maternity care including a national maternity strategy, a maternity commissioner reporting to the Prime Minister, improved digital record keeping and more support for partners.

I received excellent care at Stroud Maternity and the Royal Gloucester Hospital when I had my two daughters.

I continue to campaign for the reopening of Stroud’s post-natal beds because I know it will be a great help to new mums and they are much needed.

But the report found that good care is 'the exception rather than the rule' and women are often treated as ‘an inconvenience'.

The health secretary said she was determined to improve care and the head of NHS said the standard was simply not good enough.

We know locally how wonderful our maternity teams are and Ministers are putting more money into the recruitment and retaining of midwives who are at the frontline.

I am worried that this report will be another blow for a sector under pressure or deter people training in maternity. 

It is however important that national issues are flagged where necessary and I note that the report refers to improved compassion, better communication and understanding not being linked to resources but leadership.

Without change the situation could continue to harm new mums. The Birth Trauma Association believes an estimated 20,000 women a year develop postnatal post-traumatic stress disorder. 

 A further 200,000 women may also feel traumatised by childbirth and develop some of the symptoms of PTSD. 

The cost to the NHS is huge too. Recent figures found 65 percent of the NHS's budget to cover clinical negligence claims totalling £69.3billion in 2022-23 were related to maternity and neonatal liabilities.

This money could and should be spent on reaching better standards of care in the first place.

For me, some of the experiences reported by mums add to the case for reopening the postnatal beds.

It’s clear that those first hours and days are crucial to healing, health and the baby. I will continue to fight for this.