An evaluation of the Birth Matters Clinic



To explore experiences of the Birth Matters Clinic and identify ways in which it could be improved, from the perspectives of women who use the service and midwives who deliver the service.


Evaluation of existing service using predominantly qualitative methods (interviews with women and midwives) with embedded psychological questionnaires


Childbirth for the majority of women results in a positive experience, however, there is an increasing number of women who are requesting a consultation with healthcare professionals, as a result of a traumatic experience during childbirth. A woman’s negative experience of childbirth and maternity care can have negative impacts on a woman’s relationship with her baby and with her partner and can increase the likelihood of psychological problems (distress or disorder) after the birth or during a subsequent pregnancy. For example, the birth experience is a recognised risk factor for postnatal depression, a condition which affects 10-15% of women; post-traumatic stress disorder following childbirth (PTSD), thought to affect approximately 2-6% of women at six weeks after birth.

Providing support to improve women’s birth experiences is important for the NHS for reasons beyond the psychosocial impacts for the woman and her family. Maternity services is the most expensive area of litigation in the NHS. A substantial number of women are dissatisfied with the care they received during their birth experience and in the postnatal period and experiences of childbirth are highly relevant to both risk management and the drive for quality assurance. Women’s birth experiences are also relevant to birth outcomes in subsequent pregnancies. Many services that exist to provide support for women (such as the Birth Matters Clinic) have not been rigorously evaluated in terms of outcomes for women or the support and training that midwives require to deliver such provision of care.


Dr Janet Hirst (PI), Dr Zoe Darwin, Ms Gayle Wright, Dr Lilis Susanti, Professor Linda McGowan

Funding body: School of Healthcare Research Pump Priming Fund

Contact: Dr Janet Hirst