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Call for postnatal care improvement

A charity has warned that the NHS is letting down new mothers by delivering inadequate postnatal care.

A report by the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) reveals that many first-time mothers are unprepared and unsupported after giving birth.

Postnatal Care - a Cinderella story?, a report based on a survey of 1,260 first-time mothers, indicates that many felt helpless, isolated and abandoned by hospital care.

Around 42% of those questioned believe there was only "sometimes" or "never" enough midwives on duty, as opposed to "always" or "mostly" enough, while 57% of new mothers questioned said they didn't get all the required emotional support they needed in hospital within 24 hours of giving birth.

Less than half (41%) of first-time mothers questioned encountered problems with emotional support, physical care and information given to first-time mothers, while 56% said they got all the physical care they needed and only 45% received all the information and advice they needed.

The report also found that 96% were not enlisted in a personalised postnatal care plan, despite NICE guidance stating that all mothers should be involved in one.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "The government is working with the Royal College of Midwives, the NHS and other partners to design new provider networks to improve the quality of maternity care and extend the choices available to every pregnant woman.

"We are also committed to recruiting an extra 4,200 health visitors who will be able to give professional support to women after birth and are currently exploring with the profession how best to achieve this."

Copyright © Press Association 2010

NCT report