Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Aotearoa would like to provide an oral submission to emphasis the ACC legislation needs to ensure that all birth related injuries are covered. Birth Trauma Aotearoa state “It is suggested that 85% of New Zealand women and birth givers suffer childbirth injury. We also know that 1 in 3 birth givers report their birth as traumatic.
Many people consider physical and/or psychological injury to be “just a part of birthing” – this does not have to be the case and, when injury arises, everyone deserves treatment and support”. Physical Birth Trauma can include Caesarean Section, Perineal Tear, Pelvic Floor Muscle Damage, Pelvic Organ Prolapse, Labial Tears or Fistula. Psychological injuries can include Postnatal Depression, Anxiety or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD.
A traumatic birth experience is associated with postpartum mental health problems, including depression and PTSD. Poor mental health in the postnatal period can alter a woman’s sense of self, and disrupt family relationships. Difficulties with early mother-baby bonding can negatively influence a child’s social, emotional and mental development. In addition, the experience of a traumatic birth can influence a woman’s future decisions regarding where, how, and with whom she gives birth. Therefore, the consequences of a traumatic birth experience can be substantial and wide-ranging for women and their families.
One in 25 women develop PTSD after childbirth with many more developing some trauma symptoms. It can be caused by a range of traumatic experiences, particularly those involving emergencies where the woman fears for her own or her baby’s life.
Women who develop PTSD after traumatic birth typically find themselves reliving the birth through flashbacks and nightmares, and often find that their extreme anxiety and sense of being on high alert makes daily life unbearable.
Having a baby should be one of the happiest and most exciting days of a women’s life. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. When events go awry during childbirth, the consequences can be devastating for the baby and the parents. Many mothers go into labour having researched her options and with a birth plan in place. Unfortunately, even a birth that started well, can turn into a scary and sometimes terrifying ordeal. Sadly when things go wrong during labour, this can lead to the baby suffering life changing brain injuries and the mother having to undergo emergency treatment to deliver her baby, will undoubtedly experience feelings of trauma.
We would like to draw your attention to key areas we need you to support to make a real difference.
- The bill does not include psychological trauma or injury – support services for this injury related to birth are severely lacking and challenging to access.
Recommendation: Extended cover to include psychological injury relating to childbirth.
- The list of injuries covered by the bill is exhaustive. Unfortunately, this list excludes many injuries that occur during birth.
Recommendation: For ACC legislation to be drafted to ensure that all birth-related injuries are covered.
- The Bill does not provide retrospective cover – those who are already injured, or who sustain an injury prior to 1 October 2022, are excluded from this cover.
Recommendation: Include cover for those who are currently suffering from an injury sustained prior to 1 October 2022.
- The Bill does not currently include cover for injuries to baby sustained during birth.
Recommendation: That any injury to the birthing person and their baby sustained during birth be covered by legislation.
- At present, the process women and birth givers need to go through in order to apply for injury cover is unnecessarliy onerus at a time when parents are already exhausted, let alone physically debilitated.
Recommendation: Streamline the application and support process to be consumer-friendly.
- Recommendation: Birth-related injury to be diagnosed by a midwife, obstetrician/gynocologist, GP or physio. This will ensure a faster, more streamlined application and support/treatment process.
- Recommendation: Considering we understand the impacts of both physical and psychological ill health related to child birth, PADA recommends that every person who gives birth in Aotearoa is offered at least 3 physical and 3 psychological support sessions post-birth, as part of standard care, with the option to extend this support out to further sessions if needed.