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MOTHERS MATTER

Peer-to-peer support to help women navigate pregnancy, birth and motherhood.

What is Mothers Matter?

Mothers Matter is an initiative developed by MCA in response to the significant rates of trauma experienced by birthing women. It aims to support the well-being and health of women in line with the Queensland Government's Women's Strategy. This peer support will assist women as they navigate the full scope of conception, pregnancy, birth and early motherhood. The aim of providing this support is to reduce both physical and emotional birth trauma; improve overall wellbeing and mental health; and help create positive health engagement and outcomes.

It is estimated almost 4 in 10 women experience a traumatic birth. A recent study suggests these estimates could be closer to 6 in 10 women. It is also estimated 1 in 10 women develop PTSD. One in 3 teens giving birth experiences a traumatic birth, and 50% of these women display symptoms suggestive of acute trauma during the immediate postpartum period. Researchers also suspect that many women have experienced birth trauma but are not aware of it due to a range of factors, such as social and cultural contexts and a lack of awareness. With 66,000+ Queensland women giving birth annually, this amounts to 26,000 to 39,000 traumatised women urgently needing support every year.

What is birth trauma?

Experiencing birth trauma can have potentially lifelong effects on both mental and physical health. It can also impact a woman’s relationship with her baby, her partner and her family, as well as her breastfeeding success and future fertility. A ‘traumatic birth’ is a complex concept that is used to describe a series of related experiences of childbirth that result in a negative psychological response. Physical trauma in the form of injury to the baby or mother may be involved but is not a necessary condition. Birth trauma is not just associated with the actual birth but with how women are treated and supported leading up to, during and the immediate time after birth as well. Birth trauma isn’t linear, and the effects may not present immediately after birth – it can take some time for birth trauma to present. Birth trauma is strongly influenced and/or indicated by:
- Lack of woman-centred care
- Lack of informed consent
- Interventions
- Physical trauma to mother and/or baby
- Birth complications (whether preventable or not)
- Not being heard or listened to
- Poor bedside manner
- Feeling unsupported
- Lack of education and understanding of the birth and/or the healthcare system.

How will Mothers Matter support women?

Mothers Matter is aiming to work collaboratively with the Hospital and Health Service (HHS), including weekly data provided by the HHS, to meet the current gap in healthcare, whilst meeting the needs of the consumers. This primary prevention aims to implement early peer and social support as recommended in the Queensland Government's First 1000 Days Strategy, which was developed to reduce initial perinatal anxiety, birth trauma and post-natal depression and improve the overall emotional well-being of women and children. Mothers Matter will bring the community back to the core of pregnancy, motherhood and parenting with a dedicated ‘community hub’ established in the local HHS District. This will form the base for operations and will be where the peer-to-peer support takes place. The collaboration will not only extend to the HHS but other valuable support services throughout the local area and beyond. This could include domestic violence support; mental health support; as well as culturally appropriate community organisations and programs

Other in-community services may be provided to help women obtain care suitable to their needs whilst reducing the load and capacity on the HHS. This may include services such as:
-Community midwifery
-Community obstetric clinic (publicly HHS-funded or provided through Mothers Matter)
-Breastfeeding support (lactation counsellor/IBCLC)
-Women’s psychologist
-Women’s health physiotherapist
-Childcare for women to attend peer-to-peer sessions and other services provided at the community centre
-Culturally appropriate services and workshops for women
-Pregnancy education and workshops
-Parenting education and workshops.

For support, contact us at complaints@maternitychoices.org.au

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