Stafford MP calls for better birthing aftercare after her traumatic birth was 'complete pandemonium'

Theo Clarke, MP for Stafford, has shared her traumatic story of giving her birth to her now 10-month-old daughter. Credit: UK Parliament

A Midlands MP has called for better aftercare for women who experience a traumatic birth after her own "terrifying" experience.

Theo Clarke, the MP for Stafford, spent 40 hours in labour with her first child Arabella last year, but shortly after giving birth was taken into emergency surgery due to a third-degree tear.

She said the care she received after the two hour-surgery without general anaesthetic - because she had an epidural previously - was "complete pandemonium".

Speaking to The Times, 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.

She said: "It was definitely the most terrifying experience of my entire life. I thought I was going to die."

"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 continued.

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

She said she submitted a formal complaint to Royal Stoke University Hospital where the hospital trust’s chief nurse apologised and said that "delivering safe, high-quality care to women and their families is always our priority", after being contacted by The Times.

Maternity services at Royal Stoke were downgraded from "good" to "requires improvement" by the Care Quality Commission in March.

Under the safety category, it was judged as inadequate. The hospital said it recognised the issues and took "immediate action" while improving staffing levels.

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.

Writing on Twitter, Ms Clarke said: "I have decided to share my personal story to ensure that no other mum experiences birth trauma.

"Next week I will launch a new cross party birth trauma group in Parliament to help address this issue and ensure that all mums get the support they need."

Other female MPs have spoken out in support of Ms Clarke.

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."

Labour frontbencher Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley, said: "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."

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

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

"Very proud of Theo Clarke for doing this. Privilege to have met the doctor who saved her life."

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

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