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Supporting patients who experience birth trauma

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Supporting patients who experience birth trauma

A new Liaison Midwife to support patients experiencing birth trauma.

Having a baby can be one of the most positive life-defining moments. However, we know that for some people, it can be a mixed, or even negative experience, which results in physical and psychological trauma.

This week is Birth Trauma Awareness Week, a time when we shed a light on the experiences of women and birthing people, so we can be part of a collective effort to drive change and improve the lives of people who are impacted.

At Western Health, we have created a new Liaison Midwife role to complement the support provided to patients following birth trauma from our physiotherapies and The Obstetric Anal Sphincter Injuries Clinic.

The new role, which will be performed by Libby Crow and Annie Wenham-Flatt, focuses specifically on assisting patients and their loved ones with their emotional wellbeing after they experience significant tears, blood loss and emergency caesarean sections.

These patients will be offered support in the first few days after birth, 2-3 weeks postnatal and again at six weeks.

Some patients will receive additional support, focusing on better understanding the birth by demystifying clinical actions and allowing them to reflect and ask questions about their care.

"One in three birthing people experience some form of either physical or psychological trauma during their birth experience," Libby (pictured) said.

"In working in this role, Annie and I aim to demystify the clinical actions that occurred during a persons' birth, and allow space for them to reflect and ask questions about their care.

"This is an integral part of the healing process and I feel honoured to be able share in a family's birth experience and help to provide the answers, clarity and emotional support they may need at that time."   

The Liaison Midwives also give feedback to clinicians regarding the care they delivered, based on the experiences of the consumers and their families.

Another way we are supporting staff who care for patients and their loved ones who experience birth trauma is by enhancing the awareness and understanding of the physical and emotional impact of birth injuries.

This year we have invited Amy Dawes Co-Founder, CEO, Director of Australasian Birth Trauma Association to speak to staff.

We'll also have presentations from:

  • A person who experienced birth trauma will also share their lived experience.

  • Dr Andrea Walker on traumatic stress in maternity healthcare workers,

  • Midwife, personal trainer and founder of Core & Floor Restore Bernadette Lack.

Western Health Head of Urogynaecology Dr Oliver Daly is presenting on the challenges of informing women, communicating risk and shared decision making.

Dr Daly recently received a grant from the Western Health Foundation's 'Women for Western Health Giving Circle' to purchase new equipment for Joan Kirner Women and Children's at Sunshine Hospital to assist more than 150 patients who experience severe tears during childbirth. It will help diagnose and reduce the risk of long-term complications from birth-related tears.  

Reading this article may bring up some difficult or painful memories for you. If you feel that you need help to work through these, please see the below resources:



PANDA: Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Association

Centre of Perinatal Excellence

Australasian Birth Trauma Association

Mums Matter Psychology

Gidget Foundation