60% of pregnant women worry they are wasting midwives’ time

New study reveals that over 60% of pregnant women worry they are wasting their midwives’ time by raising health concerns. A new campaign is launched to encourage women to speak out

Tommy’s, King’s College London and Babycentre are launching a new campaign, ‘Always Ask’, to empower pregnant women to overcome fears about speaking to professionals about health concerns.

A body of research from King’s College London, led by Jane Sandall, Professor of Social Science and Women’s Health, has shown that women’s knowledge about their own changing body is invaluable in contributing to safer pregnancies but that they often struggle to voice their instincts and concerns. The research is based on the real experiences of women who have suffered serious complications in pregnancy, labour or the postnatal period.

The campaign, which has been endorsed by the Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the NHS, aims to reduce the number of women who end up with serious pregnancy complications or loss that could have been prevented. Fear of wasting time or being a nuisance has been shown to be one compelling reason for failing to discuss a concern.

A poll run on the Babycentre website showed that more than 60% of women worried about wasting time before raising a concern, and almost 30% of women didn’t speak up because of their concerns.

This ‘Always Ask’ campaign is underpinned by a research-based project led by Dr Nicola Mackintosh at King’s College London. ‘The Re-Assure project’ aimed to enable women to share their safety concerns about life threatening illness in order to facilitate a maternity response.

Tips for speaking up in pregnancy

The campaign offers tips for speaking up in pregnancy, which have been gathered from women who took part in the project:

1)      Don’t play it down – take your concerns seriously and others will too
2)      Be specific – say what has changed, even if you don’t think it’s related to your pregnancy
3)      Begin by saying, ‘I am concerned…’
4)      Ask the healthcare professionals for their name
5)      Make a list of all your concerns
6)      Write down what you’re told
7)      It’s ok to say you are feeling vulnerable and frightened
8)      Before you leave that appointment – consider whether you have asked all your questions and are satisfied with the answers
9)      If you can’t make yourself heard or you don’t agree or you feel uncomfortable, say ‘Let me think about that and get back to you’
10)   If you are not happy with the response ask for a second opinion