What is a birth reflection and why do we offer this?

Mother talking with community midwife

Pregnancy, labour, birth, and the postnatal period can be different for every woman/birthing person and their families.

We are all different. Some birth experiences may leave women feeling empowered and strong, whilst others may be left feeling traumatised, distressed, or confused. For many, birth can be a mixture of all these emotions and experiences.

For some women, the birth they experienced may be different to the birth they had hoped for. Birth often brings up big emotions and it can be helpful to have the space to reflect and talk about these feelings and experiences with a midwife who will also have access to your notes. 

A birth reflection aims to support you by allowing you to talk through these feelings and events, to have a better understanding of what happened during your labour and birth. This reflection can take place with your community midwife during the first few weeks following your birth. This can take place wherever you feel comfortable, which could be in the comfort of your own home, at the hospital or over the phone.

During the conversation, you will have the opportunity to ask any questions and raise anything that you feel to be important about your experience(s). 

A birth reflection must be conducted by a maternity health care professional such as a community midwife, senior maternity team, professional midwifery advocate and obstetric or neonatologist consultant if required.

Who is offered a birth reflection?

Everyone who gives birth at the Royal Free London, whether you had your baby at home, at one of our birth centres, on one of our labour wards or in theatre, will be offered the opportunity to reflect and debrief on their birth.

Birth debriefs are not mandatory, but if you decide not to opt for one now, please know that you are entitled to opt in again at any point that you feel is right for you. We are always ready to talk through your experiences with you and want you to know that you can have a conversation with a midwife about your birth experience(s) at any point after you’ve had your baby/babies. 

What are the benefits of a birth reflection?

Mother talking with community midwife

Many women don’t have the opportunity to talk through their birth experience with a health care professional. Whilst some may not want to, we have found that most women would like to have this opportunity.

A birth reflection can:

  • Enable you to share your birth story with the opportunity to express thoughts, feelings, and emotions, whether they be positive or negative. 
  • Enable you to have a better understanding of your labour and birth journey, what happened and why certain decisions were made. 
  • Enable you to provide feedback about the care that you received – this feedback can help improve the services we provide and share learning. 
  • Enable you to enjoy bonding with your baby and enjoy the journey into parenthood. 

How do I arrange a birth reflection?

Your midwife will offer you an opportunity to have a birth reflection conversation when they come to visit you after having your baby.

If you are keen to go ahead with a birth reflection, they may ask you to let them know of any specific aspects of your care that you would like to discuss or any concerns that you have. This will enable them to collect the relevant information from your maternity notes ahead of your debrief. The birth reflection will take place during one of your postnatal community visits.

Who can I speak to for further support?

Mother talking with community midwife

It can take time to process the events that happen during the maternity journey. If you require a further birth reflection appointment with your community midwife, this can be arranged.

If you feel that you have more complex questions that were not able to be answered during your birth reflection and may be better answered by an obstetric doctor, a professional midwifery advocate or a member of the senior midwifery team, please inform your midwife who can refer you into this debrief clinic.

Once referred, a debrief with the senior midwifery team can take place from when you are six weeks post-delivery. Due to demand, there may be a waiting list. Once your referral has been received, you will be contacted with an update and timeline for when will be able to attend the clinic.