Bury mum-of-three who tried to take her own life calls for birth trauma awareness

Laura shared her story with ITV Granada Reports.

A mum-of-three who tried to take her own life days after giving birth to her son is calling for more awareness around birth trauma.

Laura Crawshaw, 37, from Whitefield, had three traumatic births over the space of 10 years and was left with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

It comes as an all-party parliamentary inquiry into the issue is launched, with thousands of people already submitting written and oral evidence.

During Laura's first pregnancy with her son Kayden, she suffered a life-threatening placental abruption at 35 weeks and needed an emergency C-section.

"The midwives helped me through the worst three minutes of my life", she said. "It took six minutes to bleed out, one hour to stitch me back up."

Due to the difficult birth, Laura's son was very poorly when he was born and had to be taken by ambulance to Manchester Children’s Hospital where he had round the clock care.

But within days of giving birth, Laura tried to take her own life.

She said: "The midwife who found me looked horrified. I was told me that what was happening was, in some ways, a normal response to what had happened.

"What happened to me was quite shocking. My brain had jumped to a shocking response."

Conservative MP Theo Clarke gave an emotional speech in the House of Commons after she suffered a traumatic birth.

Laura went on to have two other distressing births with her daughter's Thea and Celia.

She is one of thousands of people submitted their experiences of birth trauma to a parliamentary inquiry.

The all-party inquiry, led by the Conservative MP, Theo Clarke, and Labour’s Rosie Duffield, looked into the causes behind traumatic births.

Clarke was inspired to take action after needing emergency surgery and thinking she was going to die after the birth of her daughter in 2022.

The parliamentary inquiry's aim is to develop policy recommendations to reduce the rate of birth-related trauma.

Publishing its findings it is calling for a national plan to improve maternity care after it heard "harrowing" evidence from thousands of women.

The report, Listen to Mums: Ending the Postcode Lottery on Perinatal Care, provides many shocking examples of women who have been traumatised by their birth experience, the Birth Trauma Association said.

It included women whose babies have died or suffered permanent brain damage, as a result of mistakes made during birth, as well as women who have experienced physical injuries that have left them with bladder and bowel incontinence.

Dr Kim Thomas, CEO of the Birth Trauma Association, who wrote the report, said she had been shocked by the stories submitted by parents: “Hundreds of women told us that their lives had been ruined by their experience of birth: the word ‘broken’ came up frequently.

"Many told us that they could no longer work because of the injury they sustained, whether that was a physical injury, such as a severe tear causing long-term incontinence, or a psychological injury, leaving women with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"They also told us that the trauma had affected their ability to bond with their baby, their relationship with their partner and even their relationship with family and friends. The lack of understanding from others meant that these women often felt extremely isolated.”

One of the most upsetting elements of the stories, Dr Thomas said, was that so many women felt that they had not been listened to.

“Many women we heard from had told maternity professionals that they were concerned that something had gone wrong in labour, only to be dismissed as being over-anxious,” she said.

“This failure to listen to women then resulted in catastrophic outcomes, such as a baby being stillborn.”

"The NHS is in crisis": Rachael McGrath speaks to Granada Reports presenters Lucy Meacock and Andy Bonner about the public inquiry into birth trauma

Rachael McGrath, the chair of Birth Trauma Association, believes the reason why some women experience traumatic births is because the "NHS is in crisis".

She said and the health service is struggling to maintain maternity staff and "therefore services are getting more difficult to provide."

"Women are coming into hospitals and asking for pain relief and there's no one there to administer it - and this is all helping to embed trauma", Rachel said.

She continued to say that the parliamentary inquiry has "opened Pandora's box" of years of birth trauma events.

"An 84-year-old lady wrote in. She had a C-section more than 60 years ago without adequate anesthetic and has never recovered."

Meanwhile, Rachel, who joined the BTA after experiencing birth trauma, says some women are terminating pregnancies because of distressing experiences they have had in the past.

She said: "Nobody wants to make that decision."

Laura had three traumatic births.

An NHS spokesperson said: “The NHS is improving our support to women who have experienced a traumatic birth through rolling out specialist community perinatal teams and offering comprehensive postnatal check-ups.

“But we understand there is more to do, which is why the NHS is investing £186 million to hire more midwives and other clinicians, backed by a three-year delivery plan for maternity and neonatal services which will make care safer and more personalised for women and babies.”

Meanwhile, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We are committed to making the NHS the safest place in the world to give birth, and that’s why birth trauma support is among the top priorities in the Women’s Health Strategy in 2024.

“We’re already investing £165 million per year, rising to £186 million from April, to grow the maternity workforce and improve maternity and neonatal services across England, and have put £6.8 million towards tackling disparities in maternity care to ensure all mothers-to-be feel safe during and after giving birth.”

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