• 20Jul

    Better information needed to improve maternity care for disabled women

    A study published in BMJ Open shares data from a national survey, looking at access and quality of maternity care for disabled women during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period in England.

    Secondary analysis was conducted on data from a 2015 national survey of women’s experience of maternity care. Descriptive and adjusted analyses were undertaken for five disability groups: physical disability, sensory impairment, mental health disability, learning disability and multiple disability, and comparisons were made with the responses of non-disabled women.

    1,958 women (9.5%) from the original survey self-identified as having a disability.

    The findings of this analysis indicate some gaps in maternity care provision for these women relating to interpersonal aspects of care, including:

    • Communication
    • Feeling listened to and supported
    • Involvement in decision making
    • Having a trusted and respected relationship with clinical staff
    • Women from all disability groups wanted more postnatal contacts and help with infant feeding.

    Specific areas identified in the article related to the provision of accessible information:

    • Antenatal information may be distributed in a manner inappropriate and insufficient for women with visual impairment
    • There is some evidence that women with hearing impairment receive fewer antenatal visits and have limited access to maternity information.
    • Compared to 56% of women without a disability, a lower proportion of women with a disability said they were given enough information about their physical recovery after birth: women with a physical disability, a mental health condition and multiple disability (48%, 48% and 49%, respectively) were all significantly less likely to have been given this information.
    • Advice about contraception was less available to all disabled women, significantly so among those with a physical, mental health or learning disability.
    • Women with mental health, learning or multiple disability were less likely to report being informed of the need to arrange their own postnatal check-up.
    • Women were also asked about being given information about the emotional changes that might be experienced after the birth. Less than 60% of women overall reported being given enough information about possible changes in mood, and this was even less likely for women with physical disability and those with mental health problems (51% and 52%, respectively).

    You can access the article here: http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/7/7/e016757?cpetoc

    Malouf R, Henderson J, Redshaw M. Access and quality of maternity care for disabled women during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period in England: data from a national survey. BMJ Open 2017;7:e016757. doi:10.1136/ bmjopen-2017-016757