Shocking birth trauma stories prompt maternity panel


The traumatic stories of women giving birth in the NSW public health system have prompted a major push to improve maternity services across the state.

A new expert advisory panel will aim to put women at the centre of care and support the delivery of planned changes, the government announced on Saturday.

It will include midwifery and obstetric leads from each local health district and is expected to meet for the first time in the coming months, according to Health Minister, Ryan Park.

Mr Park said the panel will help implement the NSW Health plan to improve maternity care, Connecting, Listening and Responding - A Blueprint for Action - Maternity Care in NSW.

Following consultation with thousands of women, the blueprint identified better access to consistent information and empowering women to make informed decisions about their maternity care as key priorities for change.

"A woman's birthing experience is one that stays with them for life," Mr Park said.

"I am committed to ensuring that all women no matter where they live, have maternity services which deliver safe, high-quality care."

The announcement follows a week of harrowing testimonies by women at a parliamentary inquiry into birth trauma.

The inquiry, which received 4000 submissions from mothers, doctors and midwives around Australia, is examining the prevalence and effects of birth trauma and whether there are sufficient protections for patients.

"The stories coming out of the parliamentary inquiry into birth trauma are difficult to hear but it's important we learn from the lived experience of these women and understand how we can do better," Mr Park said.

Naomi Bowden, whose stillborn daughter was taken away from her in a styrofoam box, told the inquiry on Thursday, the way she was treated by staff made the trauma of losing her baby even worse.

"The complete lack of care in the hours and weeks and months after losing my daughter Bella exacerbated and compounded (it) and left me profoundly traumatised," Ms Bowden said.

Another woman, Carly Griffin told the inquiry on Friday she was forced to get out of bed less than eight hours after an emergency C-section, while blood was running down her legs.

Ms Griffin said she was called a "junkie" by an obstetrician and denied pain relief on more than one occasion

"I was told, 'You can't possibly be in that much pain'," Ms Griffin said.

"These comments are not only hurtful, but they're embarrassing and I was left to suffer until I was discharged two days later, while also trying to care for my son as a first-time mother."