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Campaign for better postnatal care


Mumsnet, campaign, better postal care, incontinence, painful sexWe need an honest conversation about what birth can mean for some mothers – and effective care.

Figures released as part of Mumsnet’s Campaign for Better Postnatal Care have revealed how many mothers struggle with painful sex and problems with continence months or years after their babies were born.

In Mumsnet‘s survey of women who gave birth between 2013 and 2016, more than one third (36 per cent) reported that sex had become uncomfortable for them some months after the birth, and 42 per cent said they had experienced problems with continence or their pelvic floor.

Of those who reported that sex had become uncomfortable:

Only 4 per cent reported that they had received ‘great’ medical care;

A further 13 per cent said they had received ‘adequate’ care;

And the overwhelming majority – 75 per cent – had not asked for or received medical help.

More than one-third (34 per cent) of women who tore during birth or had a caesarean said they did not have adequate care for the surgical wound or injury in the weeks following birth.

And of those who had an assisted birth using forceps or a ventouse, only 20 per cent had had a debriefing on the postnatal ward with an obstetrician or midwife, despite this being recommended best practice.

On the NHS:

Nearly one-quarter (24 per cent) of respondents said they thought that the NHS thinks continence and good sex are important, but that the NHS can’t afford to prioritise them;

17 per cent said the NHS thinks incontinence and bad sex are a shame, but so long as the baby is thriving that’s the main thing;

15 per cent said the NHS thinks birth means worse sex for some women and mild incontinence, and that’s just the way it is;

And 23 per cent thought the NHS thinks continence and good sex are important and that the NHS should work seriously to make things better for these women.

And according to the NHS, up to half of women who have given birth will experience some degree of pelvic organ prolapse.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said that around 90 per cent of women tear while giving birth, and the Chief Medical Officer’s Report of 2014 found that ten years after giving birth, around 20 per cent of mothers will experience urinary incontinence and around 3 per cent will experience faecal incontinence as a result of their pregnancy and birth experiences.

Mumsnet’s founder, Justine Roberts, said: “For most mothers, thankfully, birth means a baby – but it also means tears and wounds, and for some it can mean uncomfortable sex, incontinence or prolapse symptoms that last for years or even decades.

“We see so many stories on Mumsnet of women struggling on with their daily lives despite pain and degrading symptoms.

“We need an honest conversation about what birth can mean for some mothers, and for women to feel they have permission to discuss these symptoms with their healthcare providers and receive effective care.”

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