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AIBU to think that all mothers should have food and water on postnatal wards?

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MNHQ have commented on this thread.

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 04-May-17 07:45:06


Today, we at MNHQ are launching a new campaign called Better Postnatal Care: Aftercare, not Afterthought.

Over the years, we’ve been struck by how many MNers have related pretty horrible experiences on postnatal wards. We’ve also seen lots of discussions about longer term aspects of postnatal care: help with breast or bottle feeding, mental health care for new mothers, wound care after difficult births, and physio for women who feel they need it (but rarely feel able to ask for it) - among other things.

So, towards the end of last year we decided to see if we could do something about it. We ran a big survey of Mumsnet users’ experiences of postnatal care, and some of the results were striking. (You can see more here.) Among those who stayed in hospital after giving birth - which was most new mums - many reported that it was sometimes difficult to access food, pain relief, drinking water and washing facilities. 61% had been unable to access food when they needed it; 45% had been unable to access pain relief when they needed it; 22% had been unable to access water when they needed it; and 19% had been unable to access washing facilities when they needed them.

So today, we are asking the major UK political parties to commit, in their manifestos for the general election, to making sure that women on postnatal wards always have access to the absolute basics: food, water, pain relief and washing facilities.

We’re also asking everyone (this means you!) to contribute ideas about how we can make postnatal wards ‘fit for purpose’. More midwives? A fridge full of sandwiches, fruit and water on every ward? Asking all visitors and patients to turn off noises on their phones and personal devices? Maternity support assistants? Welcome cards by every bed explaining how the ward works? Making sure that inpatients and their visitors use headphones if they’re watching TV? We’re after all your suggestions, no matter how small. We’ll also be asking for input from healthcare workers with frontline experience - so if you’re one of those, please do chip in.

This isn’t about going into battle with people who work in maternity services in the NHS. Most of you feel that overall, over the year or so post-birth, standards of postnatal care are good or OK. When asked what needs to change, many of you say you think there should be more staff. Some of you had very good experiences: if you look at the ‘Good Stuff’ heading on this page you’ll see some shout-outs to hospitals and services that MNers say are getting things right. So we know that it can be done. What we want to do is find out how these hospitals are managing to get it right, and see if the lessons can be transferred.

In the months to come, the campaign will look in more detail at things like infant feeding, traumatic births, postnatal mental health, and follow-up care for birth injuries.

Please get involved with the campaign. Here are some ways you can help.

And as ever - do let us know what you think!


Faithless12 Thu 04-May-17 07:46:14

Actually have breakfast brought to you instead of it appearing around the corner and no one down at the end of the ward knowing about it.

MessyBun247 Thu 04-May-17 07:47:55

The link doesnt work?

Faithless12 Thu 04-May-17 07:48:54

Oh and having a nurse who wanders the ward and deals with mothers who just let their baby cry and moves the cots so they are within their curtain area, it's not massive but if your cot is in my area my area is even smaller.

TestingTestingWonTooFree Thu 04-May-17 07:49:15

An info card about how things works is a really good idea. It could do with being translated into common foreign languages too. I saw a woman getting fairly poor care recently because she couldn't speak English.

TipBoov Thu 04-May-17 07:52:26

Food should be brought round on a trolley, instead of expecting women who are just hours post-csection to fetch their meals from the end of the corridor.

MrsPear Thu 04-May-17 07:52:37

I had to beg for a DRINK post birth - I gave birth at 11 30pm on a Sunday so no chance of a shop open. I got some warm water at 5 00 am!

SprogletsMum Thu 04-May-17 08:02:47

Meals should definitely be brought round to you at meal times. The aren't any other times when you are in pain, in hospital, expected to care for another person and fetch your own meals.
Consideration should be encouraged too. So phone calls in the day room only not on the ward. The bounty woman should have a room to take you to for the photos instead of disturbing everyone else on the ward. The ward outside of visiting times should be peaceful so people can rest.

CrohnicallyPregnant Thu 04-May-17 08:04:48

Postnatal wards should ideally be run the same sort of way as other inpatient wards.

Food brought round on a trolley at mealtimes, along with a snack cart once or twice a day for patients and visitors to buy extras if they wish. Toast or sandwiches offered to patients who arrive at the ward at an awkward time and miss a meal.
Regular drinks rounds, at the very least each patient should have a large jug of iced water brought at each meal time.
An offer to help mum wash every morning and evening (either help getting to the showers, or bring a bowl of water and soap etc)
Not treating the mum as a nuisance if she rings her bell for help getting to the toilet, or extra pain relief, or advice for baby!

I remember these were the basics of care when I was an inpatient with my Crohn's. My SIL who has had various inpatient stays has had these as a minimum.

So why are things so different postnatally?

ditzychick34 Thu 04-May-17 08:07:51

Meals brought round, or at least collected for you, c section so my mobility was limited and my dh wasn't allowed to collect. FRUIT! Seriously there was non! I was in for 5 days and had no fruit except what dh brought me after 3 days when it was all I craved because of the heat

awesomeness Thu 04-May-17 08:08:34

My last birth, i was in for a few days before an planned induction and then few days after with complications...the nurses in my hospital were feeders, they loved to feed, constantly a supply of sandwiches in their fridge for patients who were up in the night, and the food was good, breast feeding and hungry, a machine for tea coffee and hot chocolate etc so always a supply, then still had the lovely old lady with the tea trolley. Always nurses about and always a doctor too, the pre natal didnt differ from postnatal

My first two births at a different hospital i got tea and toast but was literally in and out wuth those two, more of a conver belt effect

Ive heard horror stories of post natal wards from friends who used different hospitals, partners having to bring take aways in, and intervene and find nurses, and not helping mothers who are struggling to settle the baby or establish BF, or making those who are bottle feeding feel awful.

Some hospitals do need to improve post natal as i think that sets the tone for how a woman sees their birth experience, and a negative experience can potentionally have a negative long term effect

shrunkenhead Thu 04-May-17 08:09:16

A card explaining how it works would be great. I had a homebirth but we were both unwell and were taken by ambulance to hospital straight after. I didn't have a clue what I was doing as I knew nothing about hospital protocol. I didn't know if you could leave your baby while you went to the toilet or whether you had to take it with you. Left alone in a room with no one to ask and after a few hours my bladder gave up and(mortifyingly)I wet the bed....still makes me sad to this day.

awesomeness Thu 04-May-17 08:11:56

Something that always crops up when i talk to friends.

Mobile phones, people having loud conversations through the night etc, banning them at certain times and people playing movies etc.

ShowMePotatoSalad Thu 04-May-17 08:12:02

Even though many women have undergone surgery and other medical procedures by the time they reach the postnatal ward, there is a culture that you're not ill so you don't need help, if you see what I mean. I got the distinct impression that despite the fact I was awaiting a blood tranfusion, was catheterised and hardly able to walk due to the pain from my tearing and stitches, all of those things were deemed not an issue because I'd given birth so it's just the way it is? Hope that makes sense.

user1491572121 Thu 04-May-17 08:13:18

I think the wards should be more cheerful. I know that cost is an issue but they're so grim. My Mother commented on it when she came to see DD2 and myself. She said "It's so serious and grim!"

I also think water by each bed should be the norm. A healthcare assistant once snapped at me HOURS after my section "The taps over there!"

When I'd asked for was at the other end of a long ward! I was about 2 hours post op!

SexualFlexual Thu 04-May-17 08:13:30

I don't think that food trollies should be brought to the ward bays in postnatal wards - the risk of burns to newborns is too great. Likewise with the snack cart idea, you already have many people telling you that they want privacy in these wards (even from new parents visiting their newborns).

I would like to see drinks fountains on the wards for fresh water and all women encouraged to bring in reusable water bottle - that way women can have a drink when needed and it's eco friendly. The risk is infection, so there would need to be a cleaning sink near the fountain.

I think all patients and visitors should have phones set to silence, but quiet conversations should be allowed if necessary.

I'd like to see antenatal physiotherapists around more often offering advice on post-baby exercise and nutritionists doing the same as well.

I'd get rid of those free rep people - they are horrific.

user1491572121 Thu 04-May-17 08:14:51

Tip God yes! I remember limping down the corridor for breakfast after my planned section! It was awful!

treaclesoda Thu 04-May-17 08:19:12

The post natal ward I was on had meals brought to us just like any other ward and it worked fine. It was the one and only thing that seemed to work well.

treaclesoda Thu 04-May-17 08:21:49

If the meals hadn't been brought to us I wouldn't have been able to eat at all as I honestly couldn't walk without help. And visitors weren't allowed to bring food or drinks to the ward (infection control hmm) so if I had been in a different hospital would I have been left without food for the six days I was in hospital? shock That's horrific.

Butteredparsnip1ps Thu 04-May-17 08:23:28

Just run the wards for the benefit of new mothers and their babies.

So that's not for the benefit of fathers, extended family and friends. Have a visiting room by all means, but the bedside area should be for Mum's and Babies with fathers visiting during set hours.

Recognise that a women who has been in labour for 48 hours, then pushed a baby out of her Mary in the middle of the night, might be a little tired. She might not appreciate being woken up and shown how to bath her baby.

Recognise that the same new Mother might need more than one pillow to be comfortable and to breastfeed her baby.

Lou573 Thu 04-May-17 08:24:14

A minimum of privacy on the ward would be nice - even the lady collecting up used crockery just whipped my curtain open without any preamble. At this particular instance I was boobs out, sobbing over the breast pump while I expressed for my baby in SCBU.

expatinscotland Thu 04-May-17 08:25:17

A card on how things operate in the unit would be helpful. It's just assumed you know.

summeraupair Thu 04-May-17 08:25:52

I think there should be more restrictions on visitors - not on how long partners can stay but how many can stay for so long.

When I was on the postnatal ward, in a bay of 4, two women were allowed to have seven or eight people in at the same time, all day. This included about six children between them who of course palled up and ran up and down the ward yelling all day. The rest of the relatives seemed to treat it as a big social occasion, loudly talking to each other between the cubicles. Kids kept poking their heads through my curtains while I was trying to breastfeed. I had my chairs nicked while I was in the toilet!

The midwives were either too busy to try and control things or they weren't bothered - I sent my mum to complain and she just got shrugged at.

There was another situation a couple of days later when a new lady was brought in at about 11pm. Her partner was there, fine. But he was allowed to bring in his mum, dad, brother and granddad!! They all stood around the poor woman reminiscing about the partner when he was a baby - very loudly - and the midwife was still trying to do some kind of postnatal checks, the baby was literally only a couple of hours old. Didn't even try to eject them until the woman had a medical emergency and got rushed back to the HDU.

I don't know if these situations arise because midwives are cowed by the sheer number of people, or if they don't have time to be herding people out, or if they're just not bothered, but restrictions need to be a lot stricter when it comes to random relatives and they need to actually be enforced.

Pigface1 Thu 04-May-17 08:26:04

It's a cost issue isn't it - I think it's seen that there's not much point spending money on post-natal care because the baby's out, the hard/high risk work's done and all they're doing is keeping an eye on you - and it's giving birth isn't it, what did you expect? But I think that better post-natal care could save the NHS money in other areas - especially in treating PND/PTSD. Just judging from the posts on here, the number of women who've suffered genuinely medieval treatment on post-natal wards and been permanently mentally scarred by it seems to be astronomical.

Spikeyball Thu 04-May-17 08:27:20

I would have liked the staff to have a better bedside manner. I felt like I was treated like a naughty child getting in the way of what staff wanted to do. Most of the staff looked annoyed when I asked for help with trying to breast feed or asked them where the expressing machine was. I had to drag that up and down corridors 12 hours after a c section. My baby was prem and they gave conflicting and dangerous advice about feeding. The antenatal and labour ward care was very good but the postnatal care was awful.

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