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report on the "Industrialisat
ion" of the NHS experience for many women- best not look if you haven't had your baby yet
I found this article from the Observer very interesting, certainly rang a few bells with me.
I don't want to bash midwifery, this article brings up the general way maternity wards are run rather than the standards of midwifery, particualry with regards to after care immediately after the birth
I felt Isolated, uncared for etc
My experience was mixed. As I was induced, I spent two days flitting between the antenatal ward and the labour ward (all on the same floor of the hopspital) The labour ward was fantastic. I had a good birth experience. Me and DH spent two hours in the delivery room after DD was born. Some of that time was taken stitching me up as DH held the baby, some of the time was just cuddling the baby and some of the time was having a shower.
Once I got back to the post-natal/antenatal ward, it was a different story. I was fine so long as DH was there but at 10pm he was asked to leave. I felt overwhelmed and desperately alone all night. I buzzed for help (with feeding/what are those noises my baby is making) but there only seemed tobe 2 staff on duty and they'd come and be buzzed away by someone else. I'd say my first night with DD was ruined because there was no-one there to reassure me.
The next day I moved to the midwife-led unit (within the same grounds of the hospital) and the experience was wonderful. Loads of staff visible all the time, tea and breakfast brought to your bed if you couldn't get up to eat in the dining room. Lots of help with breastfeeding. More space. I stayed there for 2 nights.
My bad experience could have been made better just by letting DH stay over in the dayroom or just a few extra pairs of caring hands (not even midwives) on the ward.
I'm dreading the upcoming birth. I had severe PND and very serious anxiety problems after birth, and the post-natal care I had certainly didn't help.
I'm so freaked out by my last experience, the panic attacks are already coming back. I can't wait till my consultant appointment in June to discuss what to do.
I'm going to discuss giving birth at a different hospital b/c you can book a private room at that one (even tho there is a significant cost involved) AND there is a well-baby nursery available. 'Rooming in' is not an option for all women.
Our infirmary is only 2 years old, but already the shortage of maternity beds available has meant women being forced to give birth in Glasgow (45 mins.-1hour away) and Dundee (even farther). The wards are stifling hot, dirty and noisy.
How on Earth is someone's body supposed to recover from the birth process with four wailing babies and crowds of people around?
I want to get out as soon as possible after giving birth so I can have some family around to help me care for the baby.
Epis, sorry you had such an awful time first time. Have you considered a home birth? Lots of good threads here on it if so.
You know, beatie, I'd love the chance to be an overnight volunteer on an ante-natal ward just to help mums cope at night. It would have made such a difference to me! You'd buzz and buzz and no one would come. I had no idea what it was like to have a newborn, so I was so nervous about all that mucous she was coughing up I stayed up nearly all night with her. I'd already gone 32 hours w/no sleep before having her. And wasn't given any oral pain relief despite the forceps delivery and stiches. It was agony to get up and lift her from her cot and I was afraid to walk unsupported for hours b/c my legs still had pins and needles from the epidural. I had been given no liquids during the labour and was horribly dehydrated.
The morning after she was born, I was so exhausted and depressed I took a shower, got dressed, and tried to prise the window open to throw myself out. Another mother ran out in the hall and grabbed a passing junior doctor. I completely lost it and they had to bring in a psychiatrist. My blood pressure soared through the roof and I wound up on Ceta-something-or-other-ending-in-'pril' hypertension drug for months.
It would have really, really helped my mental state if I'd known my baby was in safe hands and I could just get a night's sleep the first night.
We live in a tiny flat with poor soundproofing on the 2nd floor. Don't think a home birth would work for me.
Epis, so did I when I had ds at home! It was a small 2 bed 3rd floor flat in London, so it was surrounded by people. I didn't know them though! I know home birth isn't for everyone but I don't think that alone would rule it out if you wanted one.
epis - I feel really sad hearing your story.
I begged for someone to take my baby away in the middle of the night so I could sleep. I too had very little sleep the night before. I felt so guilty about those 3 hours of separation though.
If only my husband could have been there to cuddle our baby all night.
Why couldn't someone say to me "Your baby will have swallowed some mucous and so could be snuffly and coughing up mucous all night" I was so scared by every little noise she made. I didn't know it was normal.
I too would happily volunteer for a night duty in a hospital to help new mothers. Do such a postings exist?
I have worked a lot in NHS maternity care and sadly this is a very common picture, specially in London
I'm expecting my first and feel very, very lucky to have got into Maggie Elliott's unit.
It's crazy, isn't it. Shouldn't be beyond the wit of the NHS to provide a safe and humane maternity service
I had a horific experience in the Chelsea and Westminster with dd1. Wouldn't wish that experience on anyone. Chronic shortage of midwives, the agency nurses were at best unhelpful and at worst, rude. Womens who had had c-section were being discharged after 3 days!!! The bathrooms were filthy, absolutely disgusting. AND dh was told to leave the hospital 20 minutes after dd was born because visiting hours were over. I've never felt so alone in my life.
YeahBut, that's awful. Chelsea & Westminster is my local, and I fought like a cat to go instead to Charlotte's (which is oversubscribed). Reading your post has made me feel even luckier than ever...
Can anyone explain why Chelsea & Westminster has such a great reputation when every woman I know who has given birth there has had an awful time? I reckon it's just because it looks flash and is considered 'posh'.
i had DS at Hillingdon and the antenatal ward and labour ward were fantastic. The postnatal ward wasn't - this time round, I'm happy to go back to Hillingdon, but I'm leaving ASAP - or having an amenity room - DS was an angel baby and slept the night we were in hospital, but two other women came onto the ward at different times in the middle of the night with their husbands, talking loudly (fair enough, they'd just had their babies, I don't think this is avoidable, but I did SOOOO want some sleep!).
The next day, all of the midwives were vile (one shouted at me because she'd left her keys on my table (which I didn't notice) and hadn't told her!), nobody would help me with breastfeeding despite me asking over and over again, the ward was hot, the food was ATROCIOUS and I was starving, and the woman in the bed opposite had had her third child - her DH and other children turned up at 8am and her little boy stared at me the whole time he was there in a very unsettling way. I drew the curtain and was told off.
Then the midwife came to check DS over before we were discharged and told me I had a baby who didn't like anything as he was crying (she shouted at me to comfort him when she was holding him up by the armpits, trying to listen to his heart). Then he burped in her face and was much happier - I relished telling her it was obviously just wind
Phew. That's better.
I have had two laparoscopies in Chelsea & Westminster (so not maternity, but still experience of the hospital) - for the first, I went private and the ward was appalling - I had one pillow with a sticky patch on it, they wouldn't give me another till I begged, the room was filthy, the food was served in cracked bowls, and worst of all, the first time I got out of bed to go to the loo, despite having extremely low blood pressure, the nurse left the room and I had to struggle back to bed by myself.
The second time, I was on Annie Zunz and the nurses were fantastic, the ward was cleaner, it was as nice a hospital experience as it's possible to have.
Just wanted to add that my experience of the post-natal ward (Portsmouth St Mary's) is the only negative experience I have had through the NHS. I was hospitalised on the gynae ward of St Mary's following a miscarriage and emergency D&C (I was losing too much blood) and all the staff were wonderful and the ward extremely clean.
I had a rubbish experience at UCH for both births - won't be going back there, but doubt care is much better anywhere else on the NHS in London.
This time I'm going to use a doula so when I get dumped and forgotten, pre or post birth, I will have someone to look after me and able to summon help if needed.
Just for the record my experiences were very like the last example in the article, and at the Whittington; the postnatal ward is like something from the Crimea before Florence Nightingale - just shocking. Staff doing their best but rude and unthoughtful auxilaries, as the article says, you spend all that intimate time in the build up to birth and then get treated so coldly and indifferently and shabbily afterwards. It's horrible.
My advice is get out of the post natal ward as soon as you can walk again. It was double agony for me as I could virtually see my house from the ward window. <shudder at the Whittington, absolute shudder>
I have to say that my local antenatal care this time around was extremely poor in comparison to last time (just 2 years ago). After complaining, I have been told that it is caused by a shortage of midwives in our area. The service is definately deteriorating and is not acceptable in any way.
My care in Heatherwood Hospital (NHS) in Ascot where I gave birth was superb - just as good as last time. It is a wonderful hospital with amazing staff that really care. They looked after me from 37 weeks onwards off and on and I couldn't fault them. They have given me the birth that I wanted twice now. They can't do enough for you, both during the birth and afterwards. This should be an option for everyone.
I had excellent ante-natal care but terrible postnatal care. In fact so awful that I still feel sick just thinking about it. The day staff were great but the night staff were such bitches that it was unbelievable. I ended up discharging myself less than 48 hours after a c-section
EPIS... If all goes well with a 2nd baby you may well be allowed home the same day - even straight from the delivery ward. They would have been happy to discharge me straight from the delivery ward when I had my dd2, even though it was a VBAC after an elective section with dd1, so effectively my first experience of labour. I was exhausted and decided to go up to the ward to 'rest' (ha ha) for a few hours before going home to face an over-excited toddler, but of course it then took them ages to get round to discharging me, and I regretted hanging around.
Overall, though, I have to say that my experiences have been very good. I was in hospital for 10 weeks with dd1, so to still be saying it was good after that means it MUST have been OK! Everyone went out of their way to help me, and I was even given a private room (as a long-term 'resident') without having to pay for it! With dd2, I also had good care. Possibly because I was a VBAC, I had a midwifery sister plus another midwife (not a trainee, but new to the hospital, so she was shadowing the sister for a few days or weeks...) with me throughout the 2nd stage. I was on my own (but by choice) with my dh for most of the first stage.
Aftercare was good for me, too, but I had slightly unusual experiences in that my dd1 had to stay in hospital for about three weeks after the birth because she was very small and was being fed by NGT, so I HAD to have help (I could put the milk down her tube, but I needed a midwife to come and check it was in the right place for me every time). They actually begged me to let them take her to the nursery so I could sleep, but I was stubborn and wanted her to stay with me and even to get up and 'feed' her every three hours (mainly because I was so sad at not being able to feed her myself like I'd planned to do).
Three cheers for the Royal Berks!
that's why i went with independent midwives for dd, having had the nhs nightmare with ds...
i did some reading and concluded that the one essential that i was in a priviledged position of being able to pay for, but which absolutely should be free, was known and trusted midwives that were there for me throughout my pregnancy and at the birth....so i did what you did kate, but it makes me really sick to the heart that it is only money that can get you this, in sw london at least...
Wow, I had 3 absolutely fantastic experiences all at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester. I could not fault my ante-natal, peri-natal or post-natal care. All absolutely brilliant.
I was lucky enough to have the same team of community midwives for each pg/birth so I guess that helped. I had domino deliveries for ds2 and ds3 and was out of hospital within 3 hours of giving birth.
It seems I'm extremely lucky. I honestly could not make even one complaint.
I would like nothing better than to go straight home after the delivery. True, we have a two-year-old, but my IL's have offered to take her the first few nights. Just in time for my parents to arrive for a month to help out with the newborn and DD.
My husband is a brilliant, hands-on parent who'd happily take the first night of feeds so I can rest.
Best of all, only one crying baby to listen to - not a whole ward of them!
who did you have, sophable.
must say, it is one of those liberal-pinko-guardianista things - that i felt absolutely no guilt for whatsoever. gave the nhs a chance, it failed me badly in this respect. as far as the money goes - yes i agree with you. i know someone who went for a v. expensive and well known independent mw - they had to remortgage their house to do it.
Make sure you have that on your birth plan. I did and they were happy to go with it. If you can get your consultant on your side when you see him/her and get him/her to write in your notes that you need this because of your previous problems that will help too. I did this with various things that I wanted for my VBAC, which I knew that midwives were often reluctant to 'allow' (e.g. no continuous monitoring, being allowed to use the pool, etc.). Got my lovely consultant to write 'continuous monitoring not necessary' and sign it, and it worked... no-one dared to contradict him!
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