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sensitive midwives?

(31 Posts)
changeofnameforthispost Sun 13-Jul-08 19:07:26

I'm hoping for some reassurance but would rather know it "how it is" than sugar-coated so please be honest...

There are a lot of threads on mumsnet which refer to care, especially after birth, being shall we say less than optimal in the kindness and sensitivity department. And I realise a lot of this has to do with understaffing etc, but...

I am very worried because I was sexually assaulted as a child and many years on, even the most ordinary medical procedures can still be difficult because of the memories they can trigger. I know this isn't particularly logical but I understand it's quite a common response.

It is very important for me not to have people "just do things" to me without telling me, asking and gaining permission before touching or doing anything to me, and having someone I know and trust with me to hold my hand and keep me grounded.

I am terrified that from all I've heard about the expectation being that you should leave your dignity at the door, this just can't/won't happen. I am especially worried for the time after birth, if I have to stay in hospital on my own and my partner is sent home because of visiting times.

I am, unfortunately, by no means alone in having these issues - so would like to think midwives are used to it and will react sensitively?

Also - I guess this is a question for midwives/doulas or those in the same situation as me - is there anything I can do (before, to prepare and also whilst in hospital) to help with this and not be a "problem patient"? People are busy enough without having patients demanding special treatment because of "issues" and I don't want to cause trouble!

ScaryHairy Sun 13-Jul-08 19:19:12


I can't respond re what you can do to prepare, but I can tell you that, even though I was seen by a lot of people during my labour, not one of them touched me or examined me without asking my permission first.

Not only that, at the midwife-led part of my local hospital they had a policy of not doing internals unless there was a genuine need. Thus it was entirely possible that a woman could go through all of an uncomplicated labour without having any internals at all.

You could get a doula, or if not, make sure your birth partner is clear about all of this and can act as your advocate.

fryalot Sun 13-Jul-08 19:20:33


I can only speak for my personal experience, so others may have completely different things to tell you, but I have only had sensitive, kind and lovely midwives for each of my four pregnancies.

You can put an entry in your birth plan saying what you do and don't want to be done to you - also that you want to be made aware of anything that they want to do.

Would you feel comfortable having a chat with your current midwife about this stuff, and see if she can reassure you?

fryalot Sun 13-Jul-08 19:21:22

a doula is a good idea, btw, they can be your mouthpiece and when things start to get a bit out of control, they can rein the situation back a bit.

princessofpower Sun 13-Jul-08 19:46:57

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JoyS Sun 13-Jul-08 20:08:25

If you are comfortable with your midwife you could discuss it with her now, and do a very detailed birthplan closer to your due date. When I had DD, every single person that came into the room when I was in labor read my birthplan and stuck to it and I felt very in control.

PictureThis Sun 13-Jul-08 20:18:51

I can assure you that you cannot be touched without giving consent first. I think it is very important during vaginal examinations that women feel in control and I always say to them that if they feel uncomfortable at any point and they want me to stop then I will do so. If you don't want to be examined then that is fine. when you meet your midwife, have a chat with her and explain your feelings. I'm sure it will be fine.

MKG Mon 14-Jul-08 02:29:28

I think a doula would definitely help you. Having someone you feel comfortable with that is there to support you can help.

Sexual abuse is more common than people care to admit and midwives and doctors know how to deal with patients with your type of history. The key is that you communicate with them as openly as possible in order to ensure that nothing happens during birth that could be traumatic for you.

I recommend hypnobirthing. It really helps you to learn to relax, and you will feel more in control of your situation.

changeofnameforthispost Mon 14-Jul-08 07:30:58

Thank you for all the positive messages. The idea of a doula is one I'd been thinking of. However, what about afterwards when the doula leavea and the hospital sends my partner home because it's no longer visiting time?

NotQuiteCockney Mon 14-Jul-08 07:58:03

Hmmm, is a home birth an option? It sounds like you'd be a lot happier with that.

In your situation, I'd put a big note on the front of your notes (I had needle-phobic on mine, when I was in with DS2, which is an overstatement, really, but still ...). There isn't that much manhandling after the birth, I don't think (I had two CSes, and I think I was consulted before they did anything to me, afterwards, other than one v bad needle incident after DS1) - obviously it depends on whether there are stitches etc etc.

princessofpower Mon 14-Jul-08 10:16:29

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Catilla Mon 14-Jul-08 10:33:48


From my experience I would say that "leaving your dignity at the door" is something that most (but probably not all) women find "just happens" to them. I am normally relatively prudish (though no issues as extreme as yours) and didn't find exposing various parts of me awkward at all once in the middle of the hectic time that is established labour.

Everyone was polite and explained/asked before doing anything. I had no internal examinations once in established labour, though didn't have complications - I imagine if the baby starts to become distressed then the staff may feel they need to act more quickly.

You asked for "how it is" though... so I have to say that it was during stitching after the birth that I was most uncomfortable. It took a while and I was seen by several people. The doctor was worse than the midwives for checking and going carefully. I seem to be particularly ticklish down there blush. I found sucking on the gas and air my main escape (so much they told me to stop before I blacked out)! Also talking to the staff about what they were doing really put my mind at rest (I think they assume you just don't want to know/be shocked). And I focused on the fact that a good job of stitching now would mean no more interventions in the weeks to come - which was true - no-one did any checks afterwards.

Of course all that was while my dh was still around - though he took the baby for a walk and I really didn't want him around while I was stitched (embarrassment vs. reassurance?). But after he went home, the only checks made on me were taking temp/BP, giving painkillers, or if I asked for help with the baby. Is there anything particular you're worried about?

HTH and good luck!

goingfor3 Mon 14-Jul-08 10:39:25

changeofnameforthispost I have had three babies and have never had any internal examinations after the midwives checked to see if I needed any stitches. They will not do any intimate examinations on the post natal ward unless you ask them to.

NotQuiteCockney Mon 14-Jul-08 11:15:37

This isn't really about 'dignity' is it, it's a bit more important than that.

If it is internals you're worried about, I don't think they'd have any reason to do any, after the baby is out, would they? They might want to look at stitches, if you have any ...

changeofnameforthispost Mon 14-Jul-08 11:22:25

Thank you everybody. Notquitecockney, I it was breastfeeding on the ward I was thinking of mostly. I've read posts on other threads here about curtains not being closed, nurses just "marching in and shoving breast and baby together before they've even asked you what you were calling for" etc. Completely freaked me out to be honest... This is a difficult area for me and I am thinking of just not even try to breastfeed in order to avoid all the issues completely, but that seems a cop out.

MarsLady Mon 14-Jul-08 11:27:52

I think that you would benefit from a doula, particularly one who knows her stuff about breastfeeding.

There is no need for you to be internally examined after the birth whilst you are on the postnatal ward. You can also tell the mws that you don't wish to "be handled" when you are learning to breastfeed.

You may choose to have doula or Independent MW and the next choice would be home or hospital.

idontbelieveit Mon 14-Jul-08 11:48:52

A good midwife shouldn't need to handle you to get you to feed correctly. I did feel manhandled after my dd's arrival but they did always ask first, i just felt like the best way to get to grips with breastfeeding was to let them do what they wanted. In retrospect, this was not the case. The best help I had was from a midwife who didn't touch me at all but had the time to sit through a whole feed and talk me through it. You could always phone la leche league/ NCT in advance of your birth and see if they can arrange someone to come to the hospital to help with the feeding. They'll have more time than the overstretched midwives.

NotQuiteCockney Mon 14-Jul-08 11:53:58

Midwives are sometimes a bit free with their hands, without asking. And it doesn't help, either.

In your position, I'd be trying for a home birth, or getting out ASAP after the baby is born. And yeah, your own doula sounds good - also, if you do want to bf, you might want to look into local bf support, and get knowledgeable now about it, so you are confident and better able to fend off difficult people ...

twocutedarlings Mon 14-Jul-08 11:56:04

I think like they others have said, a home birth is definatley something you should seriously consider, being in your own home would probably really help you to feel more incontrol.

As regards to breast feeding, yes its true some MWs can be very hands on helping mothers to establish feeding, but they will always ask if they can touch your breasts before they do. If you choose a homebirth it will be one of the community MWs in your area that will help you (if you need any that is).

But i will add that breast is only best for baby if its best for mum, so dont feel obligated!! its your body, it upto you what you do with it.

Hope this helps xxx

princessofpower Mon 14-Jul-08 12:16:39

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changeofnameforthispost Mon 14-Jul-08 13:58:06

The idea of a homebirth is superficially attractive but... we live 45 minutes drive from the nearest hospital so I would have some concerns about transfer times if anything went wrong. Also and probably more importantly I am quite hospoital and needle/blood phobic (I pass out a lot...) so thought it better to face up to that and try to get my head round the idea of going to hospital and persuade myself that they are OK places to be... rather than spending 9 months saying "la la la, it will all be fine, no nasty hospitals, no nasty needles or interventions" and then have a much much worse time if things didn't go to plan and I ended up in hospital (as a lot of first time home births do).

In terms of saying no to manhandling, it's empowering to hear people say I can but not always easy in practice to find the words, especially as my response to people "getting too close" is generally to freeze up so the words just won't come out. Hence my worry about what happens when "they" force my partner to go home and I am left without my advocate and rock. Stupid though it sounds, are there any polite but assertive phrases that midwives/nurses respond to, that I can learn!?

It's great to hear that others have had positive experiences so thank you.

twocutedarlings Mon 14-Jul-08 14:10:42

Some NHS hospitals have private rooms that you can pay for, which will means your partner can stay with you. My local maternity units has them, the cost was about £17 per night.

As regards to the homebirth figures show that there are less complications, even with a first labour. Infact if your hospital phobic again this would (for me) give even more reason to seriously consider it.

twocutedarlings Mon 14-Jul-08 14:11:29

Can you tell, that i dont like hospitals LOL grin.

NotQuiteCockney Mon 14-Jul-08 14:15:17

"I do not consent" is a pretty clear phrase.

This goes far beyond the requirements of the OP, but have you considered counselling? It won't make your history go away, but it could greatly reduce your stress level.

I don't think it necessarily makes sense for you to, essentially, force yourself to go to hospital, and it seems very negative to assume that if you try for a home birth, you won't get it. Lots of home births do happen successfully.

notcitrus Mon 14-Jul-08 14:16:35

I've got similar concerns to you (first baby due in 9 weeks) - basically I really do not want to be left alone or only with strangers at any point.
I've been told that partners going home is only policy to ensure mothers have a chance at rest, but in reality they are quite happy for a partner to stay as long as they are quiet - they have much better things to do than try to evict anyone unnecessarily, and certainly in my hospital the alternative would involve spending a much larger amount on professional interpreters. MrNC and two backup friends are all prepared to politely but firmly refuse to leave me.

My notes have 'Get explicit consent for everything' on the summary page (as well as 'DEAF' plus a post-it I added saying 'so please DO ... and 'please DON'T ...' on the cover)

So far all the midwives and consultants I've seen have been excellent - although one assistant (woman who takes blood pressure/urine sample) has the deaf awareness of a brick, despite the receptionist and midwives trying to explain the concepts in words of one syllable...

But yes, threads here and other stories about people having injections/internals etc without consent really scare me too. angry

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