How did you find your hospital’s post-birth care before you were discharged? Did you have a nice chat with a friendly midwife who ensured you had a good understanding of the needs of your baby and the possible challenges to come? Did you find that you left hospital armed with all the information and advice you were going to need?
I had a brilliant birth experience, but the brief stay in hospital after the birth left something to be desired. Granted, I was pretty knackered and I don’t remember every moment and every chat, but even in this state, I can safely say that all my knowledge about what was to come once I had left the hospital and we were our own little family came from the NCT course that I had attended whilst pregnant. They even discharged me with a notes saying the breastfeeding was “established” when no one had seen me feed and Munchkin and I were back in 24 hours later because she wouldn’t…
Long gone are the times of my parents, where new mothers were kept in for over a week, and taught how to feed, wash, change and generally care for their new baby. Not that I really fancy spending more time than necessary in a noisy, hot hospital ward, but I would like to think that someone has a duty of care over new babies and their families.
So, when I saw a BBC news story entitled “Leicester hospital’s new mothers DVD attracts NHS interest“, I read it with mixed feelings. Leicester General Hospital has created a DVD for new parents and apparently other trusts are very interested in it. It appears from the BBC report, that new mums are given the DVD on a laptop prior to being discharged and that this DVD gives helpful advice and information about how to feed and care for your new baby. The report then states that parents are also able to ask other questions if they wish.
On one hand this seems like an impersonal way of interacting with new mums. I have an image of being shattered and bemused, newborn in arms, whilst a midwife sets up a laptop, presses play and says, “I’ll be back in 15 minutes”. Alone with a small potentially screaming bundle and a laptop spouting information-overload may not be the most useful learning environment!
…and yet if a DVD means that you are given access to information, rather than just packed off home to make space then perhaps it is a good thing. Perhaps a short DVD that you can watch and then consider the sorts of questions you might like to ask is a useful idea. Perhaps a DVD which can be paused or fast-forwarded depending on prior knowledge, rather than the brisk chat from a midwife who has a hundred other things she needs to be doing is in fact a good thing.
I am in two minds. I don’t think that this impersonal should replace the personal, but is the impersonal better than nothing when it comes to ensuring you are well informed about looking after your child?
At least once a week a report is published, and taken out of context by the media, on parenting, child birth or children that really annoys me. Last week it was championing Ceasareans rejoicing in the fact that all women should be able to have one if they ‘want’ one – obviously they have not spoken to any women who have had one before phrasing this like it’s a luxury must-have accessory!!! And this week it’s the ‘warning’ to first time mums against having home births!
The study claims that ‘First-time mothers who opt for a home-birth are almost three times more likely to suffer complications than if they go to hospital.’ It went on to state that ‘up to half of first time mothers were transferred to hospital while in labour from home and third from a midwifery unit’. Arrgh! This is yet again the ‘medical brigade’ forcing out women’s choices with that oh so powerful vehicle of fear! I am aware not every woman will be with me on this one and perhaps it is reassuring for many to give birth in a hospital. I however, was adamant from the moment I was pregnant that I was not ‘ill’ and had never had a stay in hospital in my life so therefore why should I go now while I’m performing something that trillions of women have done through the ages and continue to do so every second of the day around the world which I believe is called ‘natural’ childbirth??!! BearCub was meant to be a home-birth and I had my entire labour at home when the mid wife ‘thought’ his heart slowed so they took me in (during the transistion phase) when I arrived I was 10 cm and ready to push so I could have stayed hoem after all!
But what I really hate about this research, as with most statistics shoved in our face by the media that we for some reason feel unable to question, is that they only tell half the picture. In fact way down near the bottom of each article on this paper the researchers stressed that ‘giving birth is generally very safe as 250 babies suffered complications from the 64,538 births in the study’.
Hospitals want us to have medical intervention during child-birth as it is quicker, safer (for them), and quieter. Yes really! Ask any NCT teacher and they’ll tell you that hospitals don’t like the grunting, groaning, screaming and general animalistic noises that help us pop out our offspring. We are hassle wanting to be mobile, upright, on all fours or have scented candles and Bob Dylan playing in the background!!! In short it is much preferable to them if they are in control of your birth experience rather than you.
I think it’s worth noting that only 58 per cent of women in hospital had a natural birth without any intervention, compared to 88 per cent of women who opted for a birth at home and 76 per cent to 83 per cent of women who chose a midwife-led unit.
Professor Peter Brocklehurst, who led the study at Oxford, but has since moved to University College London (UCL), himself said adverse events are very uncommon.
“For every 1,000 women, 995 babies would have a completely normal outcome,” he said.
In contrast to the study, Maureen Treadwell, of the Birth Trauma Association, said: “These findings are useful but are based on a study of only 5,000 women in each type of midwifery unit and do not tell us how many babies died or were brain damaged in each group.”
Could it possibly be a strong argument that the number of first time births have more complications because they are first time births whether at home or in hospital? The experience is entirely new to the mother, things generally move slower and first-time mums do not know what to expect. That sounds logical doesn’t it? And we are allowed to use our brains and our mouths right?
I’d love to, along side this, see a study publish the results and recovery time of women who have had a natural birth and those who have suffered medical intervention. What can seem like the best option because it is the fastest can sometimes have the longer and more adverse affect which leads me on to another rant….. ok well I’ll leave that one for another post!!! 😉
I am going to share a little more about me than I ought to in this post. (I’ve had a few glasses of wine!) This evening I have realised that the phrase, “you must have pissed yourself laughing” can only have come from a woman…
Yes, I am talking about the lack of pelvic floor muscles I have post baby. Yes, I do mean that post child an irritating cough or a mis-timed sneeze can have rather worse consequences than it used to, and yes, I am insinuating that “piss yourself laughing” could be rather more literal than it used to be!
To anyone reading this who may be pregnant, or considering becoming so for the first time, please follow the antenatal teacher’s advice and do those rather odd exercises to tense your pelvic floor muscles, it might just make the difference between being able to go to a comedy gig post- child and not!
I recently met up with 3 mates who I used to live with at university. We were once young and carefree, enjoying our late teens and early twenties in pubs, bars and clubs… Now, our discussion as 30 (plus) year olds is rather changed. 3 out of 4 of us have kids and the 3 who do were fervently persuading the 1 without to do pelvic floor exercises right now to save embarrassment later.
When I tweeted about my hate of coughing-fits with post child pelvic floor muscles I received support (I won’t embarrass anyone by saying who this came from!). In fact, one person suggested that it was a conspiracy – who bothered to do the pelvic floor exercises and therefore who can tell you if they work or not?!
So the question I pose is this – what one thing would you tell a friend who had just become pregnant and why? I would definitely say “for goodness sake do those pelvic-floor exercises, no matter how ridiculous you feel.” What’s your best piece of advice?
I know that we are More than a Mum, but at the end of last week, I chatted with two men who challenged my preconceptions and made me re-evaluate what it is to be a Mum and what it is to be a Dad.
The first challenge came on Thursday night, when I chatted with Dean from @DaddyNatal. I was really interested in his idea of Daddy Natal, which offers “practical, memorable and enjoyable antenatal education for men, by men.”
At first I was a little sceptical, wondering if there really was this gap in the market. Do men want this sort of personalised Daddy-class? Is it all a bit too girly for them? Surely couples antenatal isn’t sexist…I didn’t notice. But then I mentioned it to my husband and his first comment was, “much-needed.” I asked him why he felt that and he said that sometimes it seems that parenthood has a ‘mummy club’ where women are told all the secrets of parenting and that men are strictly forbidden. He called it the ‘Mummy Masons’! (Though if you read BabyRambles you’ll know it’s not just Dads who feel like they’re out of the loop!)
Hubby said, that whilst he’d found the antenatal classes that we did useful, he felt they were feminised and geared towards the girls. I am ashamed to say I hadn’t even realised he’d felt like that. He’s very lucky with the Dads we met through the group and they do all meet for beers, but as they’re all working fulltime, they don’t do it anywhere near as often as us girls and I’m not sure that even with beer the men discuss parenting in quite the same way we do. So it seems that there is a need for a Daddy-centric approach to antenatal classes.
I was also interested to see that on the website, Daddy Natal also offers new Dad’s classes for Daddy and baby – no Mum’s allowed. Sounds like the tables are turning!
The second meeting that made me reassess my opinions was in my role as a breastfeeding peer supporter. I run a drop in group at the local Sure Start Children’s centre and the Health Visitors do checks in the room next door. On Friday I was introduced to a new trainee Health Visitor, Mike. Mike, as you may have guessed, is a man.
After I had met him, I wondered how I would have felt if a man had turned up at our door in the first few days to check on us and our baby. I wondered if I’d have been comfortable; and then I checked myself and thought OUR door, US, OUR baby. I wonder if my husband would have felt more at ease with a male Health Visitor? More included? Mike will, after all, have exactly the same qualifications as any female Health Visitor.