.Understanding How To Spot Medical Negligence As A Birthing Partner


They say that giving birth is the most magical day in many women’s lives but this is not always the case. Whether your labour is the easiest or most traumatic event, giving birth makes a huge difference to a mother’s mental and physical welfare. Aside from the medical professionals one of the most important jobs during this time is the birthing partner. Given the task of making sure the mother feels calm and safe, as well as encouraging and praising them, the birthing partner’s role is highly demanding which leaves many people feeling unprepared. We have put together some advice on what you should be prepared for if you are asked to be a birthing partner, including how you should support the mother as well as what you should do if you feel any medical negligence has occurred.

Know Your Role
Being asked to be someone’s birthing partner is one of the highest honours you could have but while many have been in this situation before – either themselves or with someone else – a large number of people have not. Delivery rooms can be a shock to someone who is not in labour and therefore has time to look around and take in the situation. As well as witnessing the mother in pain, and perhaps even distressed, the birthing partner will be witness to high levels of noise, stress and perhaps some medical emergencies. However, if the labour is long you may find yourself slightly bored and tiring then suddenly it is all go and again, you are not too sure what is happening. The best thing to do is to prepare yourself for the reality of what happens in the delivery room. Talk to friends or family who have been birthing partners and take their advice, watch documentaries such as One Born Every Minute, read pregnancy books or even go online and watch people’s birthing videos.
Make sure you know what the mother has decided she wants in case you are asked questions. Every mother has a birthing plan so familiarise yourself with it, think about the different scenarios you may find yourself in such as being offered a birthing pool or the mother having to have a C-section. Go to the mother’s antenatal classes where an experienced midwife will be teaching you all about the labour and delivery.
Be Knowledgeable
Make sure you know everything you can about the mother’s pregnancy. This does not mean you need to attend every single appointment throughout the pregnancy but make sure the mother has fully briefed you on what is happening. There may be developments that could affect the labour and as a birthing partner it is your job to make sure you know these things. If the midwife needs to ask a question you really need to know the answer. Sit down with the mother as well as a midwife or other healthcare professional – maybe at the antenatal classes – to have a chat about your role and ask them any questions you are unsure about. Most mothers-to-be have a birthing plan. Sit down and go through the plan with her so you are familiar with what she requires. It may even be worth making a copy for yourself so you know exactly what is needed before the main event. Has she requested certain music or that the room be quiet? Will she be requiring pain relief and if so which form is allowed or not? Are there any religious requirements that need to be met? Most mother’s will not be able to answer these sort of questions if she is in the middle of labour so you will be the person being either asked or to confirm what her preferences are.
Be Prepared
A baby’s due date is completely unpredictable, even if the mother has a C-section booked, so you must be prepared for action as the pregnancy progresses. The mother will have an overnight bag ready to take with her to the hospital with everything needed for herself and the baby. Familiarise yourself with where this is and also pack one for yourself. You may be at the hospital for many hours so pack a lunch and some drinks. Some hospitals allow you to have your mobile phone on so make sure you have a charger with you. It may also be a good idea to take a book or magazine as you could be sitting for hours with little to do. You should also make sure you are in the best of health as you near the due date, this includes making sure you are rested and fed. Do you have to inform your work that you may have to take time off work, potentially at short notice? An often forgotten act is making sure you know how to put the baby seat in the car. The hospital will not allow you to leave unless you have a safe and secure seat so practice putting this in before you head off. Finally, make sure you have your car keys and any other items you wish to take with you in a place that is easily accessible. No mum-to-be wants to be waiting around while you find your keys.
Do Your Best
When a woman is in labour everyone will be paying all their attention to her – which is as it should be. However, labour and delivery is not an easy experience and many loved ones or friends can find it a difficult experience. Seeing someone you love in a great deal of pain can be distressing, especially when there is nothing you can do to help them. Remembering to stay strong and to prioritise the mother, supporting her in whatever way she feels comfortable with and generally having her back is the best you can do.
If Things Change
The United Kingdom has one of the world’s most advanced healthcare services and we are fortunate to live in a time when childbirth is safer than it has ever been before. However, delivering a baby is still a major medical procedure and so potentially there are things that can go wrong. Whilst we do not like to think of these things you need to have a chat with the mother about what she wants to happen if unexpected complications occur. By knowing this information you will be reducing some of the stress the mother will already be feeling once she knows she is in an emergency situation. Should the mother or the baby be affected by illness or an injury as a result of the birthing process or the medical care received, you should seek an external expert’s opinion as soon as possible. There may be costs and/or damages that are necessary to help the mother or baby and so you need to know how to make a birth injury compensation claim.
The main thing to remember is that ninety-five percent of women in the UK have safe, low-risk pregnancies meaning there is no emergency medical intervention required or any complications. As the mother’s birthing partner you have the support of all the medical professionals in the delivery suite with you and you will have assisted the mother in one of the most amazing experiences of her life.  This is also a magical event for you so make sure you have prepared yourself mentally and physically so you can enjoy the experience. Good luck!
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