National programme for pelvic health to support women
It will be mandatory for maternity and neonatal facilities across the country to provide information and assistance to women who suffer trauma during childbirth.
As plans are revealed for implementing a nationwide pelvic health service, women who have experienced the often-devastating pain and distress of a traumatic birth will receive better aftercare and support, and pregnant women will be better equipped with the information they need as part of their routine antenatal care.
About one-third of women have urinary incontinence three months after giving birth, and one-seventh have anal incontinence six months later. A proportion of one in twelve women experience symptoms related to pelvic organ prolapse, a condition in which one or more pelvic organs fall out of their normal place and protrude into the vagina. These upsetting problems can have an impact on women's mental health, sexual and social connections, and employment prospects.
From April 2024 a new national service will:
- As early in the pregnancy as feasible, make sure all women are allowed to check their pelvic health.
- By 18 weeks at the latest, inform all women about the risk of pelvic floor dysfunction and birth traumas, as well as proactive steps they can take to lower this risk.
- Offer extra assistance to individuals who are more susceptible to pelvic health issues.
- Cut NHS waiting times and remove administrative obstacles to care, enabling impacted women to receive individualised treatment plans and suitable physiotherapy evaluations.
All around England, pilot programmes for perinatal pelvic health services (PPHS), which are staffed by pelvic health physiotherapists and specialised midwives, are currently in place. By March 2024, every region in England is expected to have these programmes in place, benefiting women worldwide.
Together with providing a clear route for referral into mental health care, these services complement maternity and physiotherapy treatments in supporting the prevention, early detection, and treatment of pelvic health issues related to childbirth.
By closely collaborating with midwives and obstetricians and providing assistance for the implementation of the obstetric anal sphincter injury (OASI) care package, they also lessen the likelihood that these injuries will occur in the first place.
It is critical that the right mental health services are available for women who have experienced such physical trauma since they may also suffer from debilitating mental illnesses. According to the service standard, maternity and neonatal care must build close relationships with mental health services, specifically with perinatal, maternity, and psychosexual therapy services. This will guarantee that women receive timely and appropriate referrals, enabling them to transition as smoothly as possible between pelvic and mental health services.
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