A fifth of women in Northamptonshire had a negative childbirth experience last year - a survey has found - including one woman who nearly bled to death after her umbilical cord was “torn off.”
Watchdog group Healthwatch Northampton has released a report on the experiences new mothers had in 2016.
The study of 77 mums found most had a positive experience giving birth in the county - either at the specialist birthing Unit at Northampton General Hospital, at Kettering General Hospital or at home.
But the results also showed a quarter suffered from postnatal depression, many new mums felt the county did not offer a good standard of aftercare following the closure of breastfeeding cafes, and one-in-five had a negative experience during labour, largely due to pregnancy complications.
Of them, one mother told the Healthwatch panel her umbilical cord was torn during childbirth.
The anonymous new mum said: “The midwife pulled from the umbilical cord to release the placenta and managed to tear it off, leaving a bit behind. I nearly bled to death”
Many parents told the survey they had greatly benefited from breastfeeding support cafés and groups, which they said offered them easy access to experts for technical and emotional support. But the report went on to say: “A number of parents were disappointed about the closure of these cafés/groups and the reduction in services provided at children’s centres.”
Another mum said a lack of staff in a maternity ward - which is not named in the study - meant she had “shocking” aftercare.
However, overall 78 per cent of the respondents said they had a “positive” experience of child birth.
Healthwatch Northamptonshire’s general manager, Kate Holt, said: “As well as telling us about good care, many parents told us they would like more readily available information, advice and support during the first few weeks, months and years after birth.
“They suggested more opportunities for peer support and breastfeeding support as well as access to health visitors/midwives, mental health and wellbeing support and someone to ‘check in’ on how they were doing.”
The report makes eight recommendations for maternity services in Northamptonshire, including a call to the county’s various NHS bodies to make “extra funds available” for support services such as breastfeeding cafes.
One new mum told the survey panel: “It feels like you have to chase down what support you can get all the time.”
In February last year, a popular town centre breastfeeding cafe in Wellington Street was closed due to a lack of funding. Northamptonshire Breastfeeding Alliance, which operated the cafe, was unable to sustain the £12,000 a year cost of its experts.
A spokesman for Northampton General Hosital, said; “We’ve been working very hard to improve our services and we can now offer women a full choice of consultant-led hospital birth, or a midwife-led birth either at home or in our home-from-home Barratt birth centre.
“Our award-winning homebirth team recently picked up another award for homebirth team of the year from Birthplace Matters, and our hospital midwives won a Nursing Times Award in November for their work in setting up an antenatal group for women and partners who need extra support with their experience of pregnancy and childbirth.
“However we’re not at all complacent about the service, and we’re always looking for ways to improve the care we give. We will be using the issues and concerns raised in the report to ensure that we learn from them in order to provide the best possible care to all our patients. We would welcome any additional information that Healthwatch Northamptonshire are able to provide about any case studies they may have that are specific to Northampton General Hospital.
“If any user of our maternity services wishes to follow up an issue about their care, they are very welcome to ask in the department to come along to one of our regular Meet the Matron clinics where they can discuss it in confidence with one of our senior nursing staff.”