Experiences of pregnancy, birth and onwards: The views of parents about services and support in Northamptonshire
In March 2016, Healthwatch Northamptonshire asked 77 parents with infants or young children their views on the help and support they received during pregnancy, labour and the postnatal period. The survey was designed to give a ‘snapshot’ of what parents thought of the available services, their overall experience during this period and their mental health and wellbeing. This work helps ensure the voices of parents are heard throughout the development and implementation of changes to services.
We found that whilst the majority of parents felt they had received good care and support during pregnancy, labour and after birth, there was variability in their experiences, a number of perceived gaps in services and points where they would have liked more support. The quality of care and supportiveness of healthcare professionals, particularly midwives, had the biggest impact on the experience of pregnancy and labour. The quality of information and advice was also important, and there was a desire for more information and advice about breastfeeding and other support available to families after birth. Many parents had greatly benefited from breastfeeding support cafés/groups, especially by having easy access to experts for technical and emotional support and a number were disappointed about the closure of these cafés/groups and the reduction in services provided at children’s centres.
Suggestions of what help or information should be available for parents during pregnancy and afterwards were for more information and advice, peer support and breastfeeding support as well as access to health visitors/midwives, mental health and wellbeing support and someone to ‘check in’ on how they were doing. Therefore, drop-in events and centres providing all this under one roof would meet most needs of parents after birth.