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Midwives raise doubts over post-natal care for mothers

MIDWIVES have raised concerns about the post-natal care being offered to mothers because of pressures on other parts of the system.

The Royal College of Midwives said their staff were "frustrated" at not having enough time to spend with mothers and newborns after birth.

A poll of 2000 midwives, 950 student midwives and 100 maternity support workers found that 36% would like to "do more" for women and their babies.

Almost two-thirds of midwives said the time they spend with a new mother is based on a hospital's "organisational pressures", while only 24% said it is determined by the mother's needs.

The college said midwives must be trusted to make decisions about the appropriate time spent with a new mother and her baby, adding that these decisions should be based on need rather than organisational or financial constraints.

Gillian Smith, director of RCM Scotland, said Scotland did not suffer the same staffing shortages as down south but, in cases of emergency, midwives would be moved to labour or neo-natal wards, leaving new mothers without adequate support.

She said: "Women aren't getting the support they need for things like parenting or breastfeeding. We are more fortunate in Scotland in terms of staffing shortages but we definitely have an issue about post-natal care.

"It is when the pressure points hit in neonatal or labour wards. They take [staff] from the post-natal wards. My worry is that because of the pressure points we see a ripple effect on the post-natal wards."

She added: "People are more concerned that women have a safe labour but, if you ask women, their dissatisfaction is really about post-natal care. Suddenly you're meant to get on with it yourself.

"For a second or third-time mother that might not be that difficult but for a first-time mother it has a big impact."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We welcome comments by the Royal College of Midwives RCM that midwifery staffing levels within the NHS in Scotland appear to be right, and the number of qualified nurses and midwives has increased by 3.7% under this Government.

"It is vital that we have the right mix and numbers of staff working in our hospitals, and that our approach continues to be led by in-depth evidence-based planning. That is why we will be implementing our mandatory workforce planning tools in maternity units across Scotland over the coming months."

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