New mother experiences ‘not consistent with maternity policy’

Title: New mother experiences ‘not consistent with maternity policy’.


The treatment that expectant and new mothers receive is at odds with official NHS policy, a new report says.


According to the National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (NPEU) at the University of Oxford, the majority of women visited GPs when they first learned they were pregnant, despite it being national policy to go to midwives. In addition, one in ten of the 3,000 recent mothers across England who were surveyed said that communication levels were poor. The authors of the report, which is the first national survey of new mothers in a decade, say that there are “important aspects” of maternity care that are not consistent with national policy and standards. More than a third of women were only offered one hospital as an option for giving birth, but the NPEU’s disappointment is offset by the same proportion being given the chance of homebirth significantly higher than in 1995. Today’s survey, part-funded by the Department of Health (DoH) and the Healthcare Commission, also reveals that women from ethnic minorities or deprived areas were more likely to miss out on maternity services until later in their pregnancy.¬†NPEU author Maggie Redshaw said: “By collecting data on clinical care, as well as on women’s individual experiences, we have been able to provide a more complete picture of women’s perspective on care in pregnancy and childbirth. “Maternity care workers, policy makers, commissioners and health professionals can reflect on the findings of the survey which come directly from mothers themselves.”

In response to the report, the DoH’s lead on maternity services, Gwyneth Lewis, conceded: “We already know that some women are not getting as much choice as they want from their maternity services. “The findings from this survey are feeding into the soon to be published maternity delivery plan that will set out how we will achieve services that provide real choice and support for women in all settings, from antenatal care through to the early child years.” And although Healthcare Commission chief executive Anna Walker claimed there was “a lot to celebrate” as a result of the NPEU survey, she insisted there would always be “room for improvement”.



Any views or opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent those of The Federation of Antenatal Educators (FEDANT) unless specifically stated.

Published on