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Janet’s story

Watch one woman describe her experience of maternity care - through pregnancy, birth, and beyond.

This is the story of one woman – Janet – recounting what happened during her pregnancy, at the time of birth, and immediately after. Unfortunately, though, it’s also the story of millions of women around the world.

You can hear in her story how she was shuffled through a fragmented maternity care system. Although she was a healthy woman aiming for a natural birth, she didn’t receive the support or information she needed to navigate that system. Although it sounds like Janet had clinically competent care, as she tells her story it sounds as though her own wishes or needs were overlooked in favour of keeping the system itself smooth. During her labour, Janet didn’t really want pain relief, but when it was repeatedly suggested by her midwife that she needed it, Janet relented. Information about the effects and potential consequences of that epidural weren’t discussed – nor were Janet’s own wishes for birth taken into account. You heard how much she was impacted by the different caregivers she experienced during the pregnancy and at the time of birth.

An unsupported pregnancy, birth and postnatal experience – and especially when the experience is challenging or even traumatic – has consequences. Women are less likely to breastfeed, even when they plan to. They may find the process of bonding with their babies more difficult (though it’s important to note that, regardless of the birth, bonding and attachment are ongoing processes throughout life). Even the way women (and their partners) experience the early weeks of parenting is greatly impacted by the care they had during pregnancy, at the time of birth, and in days after birth.

Clearly, what happens around the time of birth matters: to women, to babies, their families, and therefore to our communities and world.

Over to you

Why do you think medical intervention during birth is on the rise?

Do you think a woman’s birth experience has an impact on her relationship with her baby?

Were you surprised by Janet’s story? How does this resonate with your knowledge or experience of maternity care?

Learn more

If you want to learn more, take a look at the links available under the See Also heading below. We’ve included additional resources like this at the bottom of most pages in the course, so look out for them as you continue. These are optional extras that are useful if you’d like to extend your learning.

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Maternity Care: Building Relationships Really Does Save Lives

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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