Before going in to have my baby I had no idea of the struggles faced by midwives due to staff shortages and cuts. After two days on the labour ward, this had been only too apparent, for it to get even worse in post-natal care. That first night in hospital with my newborn son can only be described as horrendous – every person I spoke to was dismissive, rushed and did not provide the level of care we needed. I felt like my son and I had been failed. It was evident that every member of staff was stretched to the limit – but that was not a good enough reason overlook my concerns about my son, who evidently had an infection and ended up in NICU for the first week of his life.
He made a full recovery and is now a happy, healthy little boy – but the experience stayed with me long after his birth and I knew I needed to talk to somebody about it. I was put in touch with Maternity Voices which is a group for parents and parents-to-be to share their experiences of maternity care in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. They then take this feedback and work to improve the services, sharing what they find with service providers and local commissioning groups. Once I got in touch with them their response was very swift – it felt so good to know that somebody wanted to hear what I had to say! They listened to my story and forwarded my anonymised feedback to the service provider, who offered for me to have a meeting with the Head of Midwifery at the hospital where my son was born. This meeting was invaluable to us. We spoke through my time at the hospital from start to finish, going over my notes and outlining reasons for the failings and what the hospital intended to do in order to improve things. We even had an apology, which in itself made the world of difference to me – I finally felt like I could let go of this negative experience. They outlined some additional training they would introduce in light of our feedback, and I left the hospital feeling positive and hoping that we might have helped prevent another family going through what we did.
I am so grateful to Maternity Voices for providing this service to me and helping me move on to feel more confident about having another child. They provide information on all maternity services in the local area and strive to improve maternity services across the board. I think it is such an important service and hope to raise awareness of what they do in order for other people to receive this help.
I currently volunteer for them and have set up and coordinate their Facebook page, why not head over and have a look at what they have been up to?