40% of new mums being discharged too soon

post natal care

Survey reveals post-natal needs are not being met

A survey by the Royal College of Midwives has revealed that 40% of new mums may be being discharged from hospital too soon after having a baby, before they are ready.

The RCM has declared that the needs of both women and babies are not being met after the birth, and that more midwives are needed to ensure that post-natal visits are pencilled in. Surveying more than 2,000 midwives, 950 student midwives and 98 maternity support workers, 65% of the group say that the number of post-natal visits are dictated by organisational pressures rather than based on the women’s needs, which contrasts official NICE guidelines. Only a third of the staff surveyed said they had enough time to talk to women about their post-natal care.

Better care for mums

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, told BBC News “The continuing shortage of midwives particularly in post-natal care and the need to ensure cover for women in labour means that organisational needs are preventing midwives giving care based on clinical need and women are not getting the best possible post-natal care. This can have a massive impact on the health and well-being of the mother and her baby after the birth and well into the future. We are seeing women being discharged earlier without adequate support. This leads to readmissions later on and more cost to the NHS. This is a false economy. It is not good for women and babies and it is not good for the NHS.”

The results also highlight a survey by website Netmums, who spoke to nearly 500 women in the UK  in 2013. Around 40% of women felt they had been discharged too quickly, a figure the RCM described as “a real concern”.

NICE recommends that the “length of stay in a maternity unit should be discussed between the individual woman and her healthcare professional, taking into account the health and well-being of the woman and her baby and the level of support available following discharge”.