MPs call for better aftercare for women who have traumatic births

Tory Theo Clarke shared her ‘terrifying’ experience in a call for more support.

Sam Blewett
Friday 07 July 2023 20:31 BST
Tory MP Theo Clarke has called for better aftercare (David Woolfall/UK Parliament/PA)
Tory MP Theo Clarke has called for better aftercare (David Woolfall/UK Parliament/PA) (PA Media)

MPs have called for greater support for women dealing with traumatic births after a Conservative shared her “terrifying” experience.

Theo Clarke, the MP for Stafford, told The Times the care after two hours of surgery without general anaesthetic for a serious tear while giving birth to her first child Arabella was “complete pandemonium”.

“It was definitely the most terrifying experience of my entire life,” she said.

“I thought I was going to die.”

The MP said she was subjected to “totally unacceptable behaviour” at Royal Stoke University Hospital, including being told “not my baby, not my problem” after pressing the call button for help.

“I don’t want any mum to go through what I had and be lying in bed and pressing the emergency button saying you need help and it’s not coming,” she told the newspaper.

Ms Clarke did praise the team who carried out the surgery and her midwives, but was calling for better aftercare.

Labour frontbencher Jess Phillips said she had to have a transfusion after her first birth and was placed in intensive care after her second.

“I agree we should look at how we deal with birth trauma. Like with violence against women I’m always shocked that the amount of trauma women are expected to endure isn’t zero,” she said.

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt tweeted: “Sometimes the biggest difference you can make is because of something you’ve been through.

“Very proud of @theodoraclarke for doing this. Privilege to have met the doctor who saved her life.”

The Birth Trauma Association charity says around 20,000 women a year develop postnatal traumatic stress disorder and that as many as 200,000 may feel traumatised by childbirth.

Tory MP Alicia Kearns said she will be joining a new all-party parliamentary group Ms Clarke is setting up to push for change.

Stoke-on-Trent Central MP Jo Gideon tweeted: “It is brave of Theo to share the details of her personal trauma in order to improve standards within maternity provision. She has my full support.”

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