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NSW Birth Trauma Inquiry Findings Promise to Improve Birthing Experience

Gidget Foundation Australia welcomes recent findings into the NSW Birth Trauma Inquiry which highlights the need to improve the birthing experience for all women in NSW. Through this inquiry, we were honoured to make extensive verbal and written submissions and recommendations.

In addition to submitting our recommendations, two Gidget Foundation Clinicians were privileged to attend the public hearings to provide emotional support, counselling and to debrief those who shared their personal experiences of birth trauma.

Some of the concerns raised by Gidget Foundation during the inquiry included:

• The potential impact of physical birth injuries on the bond between the mother and baby.

• Even without physical birth injuries, women may face psychological challenges postpartum, and this may be confusing for those who perceived their labour as ‘routine’ or ‘normal’.

• Invalidating or conflicting messages from healthcare providers can contribute to parents feeling confused and distressed.

• Healthcare providers can endure shock, fear, guilt and shame, leading to a loss of confidence, negatively affecting decision-making and the quality of care provided.

• Issues of remoteness, where people in rural and regional New South Wales are expected to travel significant distances to access specialist care and are required to leave family for extended periods of time to be close to maternity services.

• Women with intellectual disabilities are at higher risk of pregnancy and birth complications, requiring tailored support that addresses both their physical and psychological needs.

The report, Birth Trauma, by the Select Committee on Birth Trauma, recommended that the NSW Government improve both mental and physical health support for those affected by birth trauma.

Recommendations included that the NSW Government:

1. Improve mental health support for women and families by:

• Providing psychological support in public postnatal care;

• Ensuring parents have access to psychological support beyond the immediate postpartum period;

• Reviewing the funding needs of services currently offering specialised helplines for birth trauma counselling and committing to providing the level of funding and support required;

• Advocating to the Australian Government to increase Medicare rebatable psychological support for new parents to 40 sessions and to reduce gap fees. The committee recognised there is a broad range of needs where some people only need a few sessions and others may need more than 40.

2. Provide funding grants specific to research into birth trauma in New South Wales

3. Establish protocols for debriefing and psychological support for maternity clinicians following exposure to a traumatic birth experience, including mentoring and regular clinical supervision

The Birth Trauma report is available on the Select Committee on Birth Trauma’s website along with submissions, transcripts of evidence and other inquiry documents.

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Media Contact

Media professionals should contact Gidget Foundation media@gidgetfoundation.org.au