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Maternity care has improved, but more progress needed

12 December 2013
  • Public

Our latest survey into women’s experiences of maternity care shows that improvements have been made over the last three years, but further progress is needed in some areas.

What did the survey cover?

The survey received responses from more than 23,000 women who had a baby in February 2013.

It covers:

  • antenatal care
  • care during labour and birth
  • postnatal care

Visit Maternity survey 2013 for more information.

Key findings

Compared to the results of the 2010 maternity survey:

  • more women felt they were always involved in decisions about their care, both antenatally (77 per cent) and during labour and birth (74 per cent)
  • more women said that they were able to move around and find a position that made them most comfortable during labour and birth ‘most of the time’ (71 per cent)
  • more women said they definitely had confidence and trust in the staff caring for them during labour and birth (up from 73 per cent in 2010 to 78 percent).
  • fewer women reported that they were not left alone at any time that worried them during labour and birth (75 per cent).
  • almost one in five women said their concerns during labour and birth were not taken seriously (19 per cent)

Key themes

Women were also able to provide comments at the end of the questionnaire which we analysed and grouped into key themes such as access to care, continuity of care and quality of care.

This showed that some women:

  • said they felt ‘bullied’ into breastfeeding and that the pressure to breastfeed made them feel isolated and guilty
  • reported experiences of poor pain management with some feeling they were not able to access pain relief quickly or that they were given insufficient quantities to control the pain.

CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, said: “This survey is important because it tells us what is important to women, what they feel is working and what needs to improve.

“I’m encouraged there are improvements but in too many cases, the quality of care delivered is just not good enough. Women and their partners are being left alone when it worries them, toilets and wards are described as unclean and some women are not given the pain relief they had expected or planned to use in their birth plan.“Further findings of note include those about continuity of care, these suggest to me that women do not mind seeing different midwives if the information and messages they receive is consistent.

“Feedback in the comments given to us show at times, a truly shocking picture of experiences that should be the most joyous time in a woman’s life, not the most frightening.”

Last updated:
29 May 2017