Inquiry recommends physiotherapy for birth trauma injury

Pregnant women sitting on exercise balls holding weights

Inquiry recommends physiotherapy for birth trauma injury

Pregnant women sitting on exercise balls holding weights

The APA and Australasian Birth Trauma Association (ABTA) applaud the NSW Select Committee on Birth Trauma report on its recommendation for physiotherapy to treat birth injuries. The report recognises the multifaceted impact of birth trauma and the critical importance of pelvic health physiotherapy for birthing parents in antenatal care.

‘We commend the findings of the Select Committee’s historically significant investigation into birth trauma that examined the barriers to effective care for birthing parents,’ said leading women’s health physiotherapist and APA Board Director Catherine Willis, who gave evidence at the inquiry hearing.

‘It is pleasing the Select Committee has called on the NSW Government to fund physiotherapy postpartum services to support those who acquire a pelvic floor injury during childbirth.’

‘If accepted by the NSW Government, this is an opportunity for strong health reform leadership with the potential to have broader implications nationally,’ Ms Willis said.

‘The Inquiry into Birth Trauma has given voice to women, birthing people and families who for too long have had to deal with the debilitating impacts of birth trauma in silence,’ said ABTA CEO Amy Dawes, who also presented evidence at the inquiry hearing.

‘It is a critical first step toward achieving safer births and better healing and supporting birthing families to understand the risks of birth and, in the event of trauma, to access timely diagnosis and a pathway to recovery.’

‘This report recognises the need to understand birth trauma better and to prevent and treat it through evidence-based care,’ Ms Dawes said.

Despite one of the report’s key findings that urgent efforts must be made to address avoidable and preventable factors that contribute to birth trauma, the report omits recommendations for evidence-based prenatal physiotherapy, funded diagnostics and holistic, multidisciplinary models of care.

More consideration is also needed to address access to care issues in regional and remote areas.

‘The APA is hopeful the report will trigger the broader shifts required to fix an outdated single practitioner, fee-for-service model that continues to hinder reform progress. The recent Federal Budget shows promise and recognition of the broader team required to truly deliver patient-centred care,’ Ms Willis said.

The APA and ABTA were among a number of health, medical and consumer bodies that gave strong evidence to the inquiry about the importance of pelvic health physiotherapy clinical assessment, planning and care in the pre-and post-natal periods to prevent and treat birth trauma. The report quotes extensively from the APA’s Position Statement on Physiotherapy and Birth Trauma.

The APA and ABTA welcome the report’s further recommendations calling for the NSW Government to:
•    Invest in research into evidence-based interventions and training of maternity healthcare professionals to overcome gender bias in the provision of pain relief to women to ensure timely access to effective pain management;
•    Review guidelines and consumer information for options for pain relief, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological, during and following labour and birth;
•    Fund grants for research into birth trauma;
•    Develop minimum standards for and ensure access to comprehensive antenatal education for birthing and non-birthing parents covering all aspects of birth, including different modes of maternal care, potential interventions and their rights during the birthing process. This education should be made available in a variety of modalities and in a form that is accessible to culturally and linguistically diverse communities;
•    Improve psychological support for parents managing grief following pregnancy loss;
•    Improve mental health support for women and families affected by birth trauma; and
•    Commit to trauma-informed care.


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