In January 2021, The MASIC Foundation, a charity supporting women who sustain severe perineal injuries during childbirth, undertook a survey of 325 women to assess the impact of their injuries on their physical and mental health and the health of their child.
READ THE FULL REPORT HERE:
Childbirth injuries are rarely spoken about but can have a huge effect on a woman’s wellbeing and on the relationship and health of their newborn child.
60% of women who sustain a 3rd or 4th-degree tear during childbirth are left with pelvic floor complications long term.
Symptoms are varied but can include bowel incontinence, urinary incontinence, pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic organ prolapse, nerve damage, sexual dysfunction and pelvic pain.
Treatment options are limited to physical therapy try and improve symptoms, electrical stimulators, surgical vaginal repair and sacral nerve stimulation to improve continence. Many women endure repeat surgical interventions.
- 85% of women who sustained severe perineal injury said it impacted on their physical and emotional relationship with their child.
- 40% short-term (in the first 6 months of child’s life)
- 27% medium-term (in the first year of child’s life)
- 18% long-term (in the first 5 years of child’s life)
- 14% permanently (5 years +)
This relationship was impacted due to the consequences of sustaining a severe perineal injury, which impacted on the woman’s ability to care for her child.
- 75% of women were impacted by physical pain
- 77% were affected by traumatic memories of the birth
- 55% of women stated they were embarrassed by the symptoms of their birth injury – an inability to control bowel function
- 50% of women stated they were unable to do normal activities with their child (eg. playgroups, school run, physical activity)
The emotional and psychological effects were also significant.
- 49% of women said they doubted their ability to mother because of the injury
- 46% said the injury affected their relationship with their partner and wider family
- 45% said they suffered from postnatal depression as a result of their injury
- 31% of women said they wondered whether their child would be better off without them
The majority of our respondents (89%) were aged 25-44.
These are young, previously active women left with life-changing injuries simply as a result of giving birth.
Quoted below are some of the anonymous comments we received from women completing the survey:
“I was in so much pain I was unable to even change his nappy for 2 weeks. I had to give up breast feeding due to pain which made me feel like an awful mother. He weighed 10.11lbs at birth and I felt like his weight (and therefore he) was responsible for my trauma. I have many more examples of how our relationship was affected.”
“Feeling so exhausted and overwhelmed at taking care of my baby and myself. Lots of postpartum anxiety surrounding the injury and new motherhood.”
“It was hard to transition to being a mother when my body was impacted by the pain and discomfort”
“Losing my independence… needed 24 hr care from mum for several months due to 4th degree tear.”
“I believe I never bonded with my child because of the injuries, not being able to move/take her out of the crib for the first few days, because of the pain I was in.”
“I also grieved my life before him”