Advice Centre

Language during childbirth and maternity care

Posted by Posted in Medical Negligence

We all know words matter and language used especially during childbirth, and in maternity care needs to be less judgemental and more personal according to a report led by midwives from the RCM. Maternity care recently has had some bad press especially in light of the maternity scandal  on avoidable baby deaths at Shrewsbury & Telford NHS Trust.

According to the BBC, The RCM (The Royal College of Midwives) led a survey of 8,000 women, their partners, doctors and midwives from across the UK. The aim being to develop ‘a shared language for pregnancy, labour and birth’. Part of this project involved taking views from 1,500 mothers who gave birth over the last 5 years. Terms like ‘normal birth’, ‘natural birth, ‘lack of maternal effort’ are terms that are not helpful.  Labour and birth needs to be a positive experience for the parents which requires ‘non-judgemental language, accurate and clear’.

One mother had trauma during home birth with forceps, the mother heard the consultant use “the failed home birth” causing the mother to feel she had failed.  Health and medical professional, in fact all of us have a duty to use language responsibly as what we say affects others, and how they feel. The use of negative words or words that imply failure can leave a lasting impact on the patients.

In our work in clinical negligence I have had a client’s partner say following the loss of their baby, the doctor said ‘don’t worry you’ll be pregnant again soon’. The use of poor and offensive  language can leave the parents isolate and angry.  For many of our clients English may not be there first language so the use of inappropriate terms can feel even more hurtful, often leaving the mother and the father with a negative impression of what should have been an event where they felt supported.

Our Clinical Negligence is used to dealing with clients with birth related cases and while we focus on getting a answers and a resolution for our clients, we also know one of the reasons clients feel aggrieved is because they are sometimes made to feel they did something wrong.

If you would like to have an informal chat with our Clinical Negligence experts in confidence to see if you have a viable claim then please complete the contact form on our website and we will give you a call back at a time convenient to you or please call/ contact Daxa Patel, Clinical Negligence Partner & Solicitor by contacting us on 0330 107 0107 or email  Once we are contacted by you, one of our helpful team members will contact you. Please note we have a team of lawyers who speak many languages including English, Polish, Romanian, Russian and Lithuanian.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.

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Daxa PatelPartner & Solicitor

Clinical Negligence – IMD Solicitors LLP

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