Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Ways to improve postnatal care #5: A debrief for all new mums

What would really have helped me in the days post birth would have been a medical professional come and talk me through what happened. I could have asked why labour went the way it did, what the implications of the medical procedures I had were and got an explanation of the medicines me and my baby were being given.

Instead I got information piecemeal - some when I was out of it on drugs, some when I was out of it on elation and some when I was out of it on tiredness. All of which means I was still piecing together what happened months later.

You might ask does it matter given both me and the baby are okay. But it matters to me. And it matters to many women.

At the moment you can request an appointment with a midwife post birth to go through your notes, providing they haven't lost them of course. But this needs you to know you can do this and to be proactive.

Instead it should be offered to all women the day after birth, or before leaving hospital, so any gaps can be filled and any questions answered. That way we'd begin our parenting experience feeling empowered by information, rather than vulnerable through a lack of knowledge.

Related posts:
Ways to improve postnatal care #1: Don't call me mum
Ways to improve postnatal care #2: Change the sheets
Ways to improve postnatal care #3: Help us buy the basics
Ways to improve postnatal care #4: Allow partners 24 hour access
Why I love the NHS


  1. I agree with you 100% on this. The birth of my daughter kind of went by in a blur. I remember in my completely knackered state seeing the delivery notes at the end of my bed and thinking I'll have a good read of them when I get home. I didn't realise that they take them away and keep them. I'm now pregnant with baby no 2 and have so many unanswered questions which leave me nervous about giving birth. I have been told that I can arrange to sit down with my midwife and properly go through my notes. I hope this is the case as I feel there is stuff I really want to know.

  2. I also completely agree, having been lucky enough to be offered a 'debrief' with my consultant. It wasn't until six weeks after though, and I think this is the right amount of time, as I had recovered emotionally and physically enough to ask questions, take notes, and really process what was being said. It's not too late to ask for this if you would find it useful - I came out of the meeting so much happier and understanding why certain things happened and certain decisions were made. Emmanuelle

  3. Yes, this is something that the Birth Trauma Association has been pushing for. Debriefs can be really useful - as long as they're done well, that is. I have heard, sadly, of debriefs that have not helped. Not sure I quite agree regarding the timing, though. IME you are too absolutely off your head a couple of days after birth to take a lot of stuf in. I'd make it something that you'd have a few weeks afterwards, once the dust and the hormones have settled.