Women praise maternity care

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More than 90 per cent of women have rated the care they receive during pregnancy and labour as either excellent or good, according to the findings of a survey published today.

The 2013 Scottish Maternity Care Survey asked over 2000 women who gave birth in Scotland during February or March last year for their views on maternity services.

Of the women surveyed, 91 per cent rated the antenatal care they received as either excellent or good and 93 per cent rated their care during labour as also excellent or good.

In addition 83 per cent of women rated their postnatal care as excellent or good, while 91 per cent were satisfied with the care they received at home after birth.

The survey, the first of its kind in fifteen years, highlights the many areas of good practice among NHS Scotland’s maternity services, while also identifying key areas for improvement.

In response to the statistics, Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said: “Providing the highest quality maternity care both before, during and after birth is one of the key priorities for this government and we are committed to ensuring that every woman gets the care that is right for them.

“For every woman childbirth is a life changing event and so it is of the utmost importance that mothers feel supported at all stages of pregnancy and birth.

“This survey provides us with a national picture of Scottish women’s experiences in hospitals across the country. It is extremely encouraging that so many of the mums surveyed rated their care as either excellent or good, however there is no excuse for poor quality care in any circumstances, no matter how rare.

“We have already begun tackling some of the issues identified by this survey through our Refreshed Framework for Maternity Care which outlines the services we expect to be in place for women and babies throughout antenatal, labour and postnatal care. We’ll continue to work closely with Health Boards to examine in more detail the results of this survey and ensure that the high standard of maternity care in hospitals is maintained.”

The responses to the survey suggest that the majority of women are able to speak to their own midwife or midwife team throughout their pregnancy with 99 per cent of respondents saying they were given a dedicated contact telephone number they could use. 82 per cent of women who used this number during pregnancy always received the help they needed.

According to 95 per cent of women surveyed, their partner or companion was involved in their care as much as they wanted.

Other findings include:

  • Most (87 per cent) of women reported they had their first antenatal assessment by 12 weeks of pregnancy
  • 62 per cent of women saw the same midwife for all/most of their antenatal check-ups
  • Only 56 per cent said they received enough information to help them decide where to have their baby, while only 25 per cent of women said they were offered the choice of a home birth.
  • Almost three quarters of women reported that during labour they were able to move around and choose positions in which they were most comfortable.
  • 5 per cent of women said they were not treated with kindness or understanding while in hospital after giving birth. 28 per cent indicated this happened sometimes.
  • Half of women said that they saw the same midwife for all, or most of their postnatal care at home and 44 per cent of women said that they saw the same midwife for antenatal and postnatal care either all or most of the time.

The improvement of postnatal care is the focus of a major research project funded by the Scottish Government, the Royal College of Midwives and the Knowledge Transfer Partnership organisation. The PRAM project (Postnatal Resource Allocation Model) aims to help maternity services provide efficient and effective women-centred post natal care.