Maternity care: mothers want “more support” and ban on sales reps in maternity wards

Maternity care: mothers want “more support” and ban on sales reps in maternity wards

Two different surveys, undertaken by 4Children and Mumsnet, show two sides of the coin for mothers’ experiences with maternity health care.

Children’s charity 4Children commissioned a poll of 1,346 mothers that revealed inconsistency in pre- and post-natal care from health providers.

Although 90% of the mothers polled said they had the “support of a midwife”, of these, 39% said that seeing the same consistent midwife at each antenatal appointment could have “improved their experience of pregnancy”.

Research revealed that mothers from low income families are “more likely to see health visitors for a shorter amount of time after the birth of their baby than more affluent mothers”.

Following the survey, 4Children chief executive Anne Longfield said: “Bringing a baby home from hospital is one of the most exciting moments of a mother’s life which is filled with hope for the future. However the first months of a baby’s life can be a very uncertain time for mothers and the support of a health visitor can make a real difference to whether a baby is flourishing or not. Children’s centres can provide a base for midwives and health visitors to provide joined up support and referrals for those who need extra help.”

However, Bounty Parenting Club (which conducted the poll on behalf of 4Children) yesterday came under fire from Mumsnet, demanding that the government “ban the practice of allowing sales reps” access to maternity wards.

A Mumsnet survey reported that mothers were being “hassled by over-zealous Bounty salespeople”.

Following an article in the British Medical Journal by Margaret McCartney regarding the “questionable practices” of Bounty, Mumsnet CEO and co-founder Justine Roberts decided to survey members to see how much of it was true.

Mumsnet found “alarming levels of dissatisfaction” amongst its users when questioned about Bounty’s behaviour and practices on maternity wards.

National Childbirth Trust chief executive officer Belinda Phipps said in a statement to the BMJ: “Within hours of giving birth, they are being asked questions – their name and address, details of life insurance – and they give them in good faith, thinking they’re speaking to a hospital person. In fact it’s a commercial person. The NHS is condoning a sales team collecting data from mothers in order to sell their name on to commercial interests.”

To date over 27,000 signatures have been collected in a petition to urge the government to change the way that the NHS allows profit making organisations onto maternity wards hours after mothers have given birth to “harass and obtain data”.