Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust – Developing a birth reflection service

For many mothers, the impact of a difficult birth is significant. It can be the source of negative beliefs which prove long-lasting, or be further fuel for a previously-held sense of vulnerability or failure.

At Northumbria Healthcare FT, a team from obstetrics, patient experience and health psychology services have developed a pathway to try to reduce this negative impact. The Birth Reflection Service allows women to work back through a difficult delivery, receiving support to address any trauma and getting answers to any questions they may have.

To create the service, over 100 members of staff were trained in a psychological model of birth trauma. This was grounded in a model of compassion which was defined as sensitivity to distress along with a motivation to prevent or alleviate that distress.

Birth Reflection clinics have now been running for six months at the trust, and patient feedback is said to be 100 per cent positive. “Allowed me to move forward and enjoy being a mummy,” said one service user. Another: “Brilliant, put a reassuring full stop to my birth.”

The hope is that the service will also lead to financial savings for the organisation, reducing the number of women who request caesarean sections because they’ve had a traumatic previous vaginal delivery. And when left untreated, perinatal post traumatic stress disorder can lead to chronic mental health problems, chronic pain, and the need for gynaecological and psychosexual interventions. The early intervention offered by the Birth Reflection Service should help prevent such outcomes.

Read a detailed case study about this project at HSJ Solutions


  • Access Health Care – Clock Tower Surgery, Exeter
  • Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust and Wishing Well Music in Healthcare – Making music in children’s critical care
  • Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Parkinson’s Team – Establishing a bespoke dementia clinic for people with Parkinson’s
  • Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group – Improving end of life care in Gloucestershire
  • NHS RightCare – High Intensity User Programme
  • Norfolk Community Health and Care Trust – Frequent Attenders Health Improvement Service
  • Northumbria Healthcare FT – Palliative Care Northumbria
  • Royal Berkshire FT – Leading the way in patient leadership
  • Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG – Connected Palliative Care Service



Winners of 2018 HSJ Awards revealed