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Referred to social services in pregnancy - terrified and ashamed(11 Posts)
I was wondering if anyone had any (hopefully positive!) experience of children's services becoming involved? I'm really scared and ashamed as I just found out my midwife has referred me and the baby hasn't even been born yet :-(
I developed prenatal OCD at the start of my 2nd trimester - I'm now 33 weeks. I was really quite bad November and December, but I got myself a private therapist and pushed my GP to refer me to the mental health team and since then I've been doing really really well. Back in December when I was quite poorly I was upset at a midwife appointment (she had to take bloods, I asked her to wash her hands an extra time and not keep the cotton pad to put on the injection site on my maternity notes as it didn't feel like a clean place, this upset her and she refused - I did let her take the bloods but I was crying the whole time). At the time she made a comment about referring to Children's Services if things didn't get better. Since then I've been a whole lot better - I haven't missed any time off work, I've not missed a meal since that day at the midwifes (I used to miss meals sometimes if I freaked out about cleanliness), and I've generally been feeling a lot brighter. I still have a ways to go but I see the therapist and a MH social worker weekly. Although my family can see the improvement they also arranged that my husband would have 3 weeks off following the birth, and my mum would - if necessary - stop working for an indefinite amount of time after that if I needed her with me (she's an agency worker and my dad can support her financially).
The midwife missed my last appointment as she was ill, but at the start of the week she rang and insisted she needed to see me to check I had all the support in place for after the birth. She came out, and we explained to her how much better I was doing but also the plans we'd come up with for in case things slid back after the birth. She herself said I seemed like 'a different woman' and the plans I had put in place were good. However then she started talking about all the things she thought I would have problems with - not being able to change nappies, not feeding the baby, even not being able to hold it after it was born. I was shocked because I have tried to explain to her my fears are very specific - I worry about catching HIV/HepC/Listeria/toxoplasmosis and giving this to the baby in the womb. I think I worry about these particular diseases because you can catch them in pregnancy with no symptoms but then have a baby that's very ill without realising. I don't really see how it's relevant to me not being able to change a nappy etc. She however seems determined that I have a problem with all dirt and bacteria, despite me pointing out that I have a dog I walk and clean up after, and I go to work which involves visiting people in their own homes. She said that even though I was obviously much better she would still refer to children's services in case I relapsed after the birth. She started talking about me having to have someone with me 24 hours a day for the first 6 weeks in case I didn't feed the baby. I was devastated, I feel like I've been slapped on the wrist despite doing everything I can to do better. I don't see why they need to rush children's services out when my husband will be off for the first 3 weeks anyway and surely he, the mh team, or the health visitor would have plenty of opportunity to flag up if I was struggling. Or in fact I myself would - it was me who first insisted on the referral to the MH team and me who arranged the private therapist. I've never hidden anything and I've done my very best to improve, even my MH social worker thinks the referral is ridiculous.
even my MH social worker thinks the referral is ridiculous
That says it all!
The midwife doesn't seem to understand ocd and her behaviour is bordering on discriminatory.
SW have got better things to be doing with their time than dealing with needless referrals like this.
Write to your supervisor of midwives and ask not to see this woman again.
Try not to worry. I know that's easier said than done. I was referred to social services because I was in an army family, had had post natal depression previously and was pregnant with twins. I rang social services and spoke to them and they said they didn't need to come out at all and dismissed it as a case.
I think in your circumstances similar is likely to happen. You sound like you have thought of everything and have a good plan in place.
I think your midwife has got the wrong end of the stick here. Can I just ask, do you have health anxieties generally, or is it specifically related to your pregnancy, and do you have any OCD traits e.g. (constant hand washing etc) Even if you do, I can't see why she has referred you to Children's Services.
I am a retired social worker and have been re-assuring someone else on a thread that a GP won't refer to CS because she is on ADs.....also said I was sad that so many young mothers worried about this and some of them were afraid to see their GP when they were depressed because of this fear, and now your post comes along!
I honestly don't think CSs will do anything with this referral - you have good plans in place. I think it says more about the midwife maybe wanting to "cover her back" than anything else. CSs nationally are absolutely inundated with work and are struggling to cope with their statutory responsibilities. Time was when they might have contacted you to offer support, but those days are long gone, and NO they willnot apply to the courts to remove your baby. You don't need this when you are pregnant. I think you should look into reporting the midwife to her managers.
I think your best plan is to get your MH social worker to have a word with CSs (probably the duty team) and tell them there are no concerns. I'm pretty sure you won't hear anything else.
If you needed a referral to CS then your MH SW would have done it by now.
If they become involved they will certainly talk to your MH SW so try not to worry too much.
I think the midwife should be more open to what you are saying rather than relying on her prejudices.
I think we all have a little OCD when it comes to hygiene during pregnancy and after. I know I was petrified of my child being exposed to harmful germs. A normal response I would have thought.
I read and replied to your previous post about the blood test. Your midwife is deeply unpleasant.
She should be investigated not you.
Nothing will happen to you or your baby because of her. You will be fine. She on the other hand needs a bloody good talking to.
This has made me irate, I really feel for you. You have done no wrong, you have worked hard to deal with your OCD and yet she wouldn't even wash her hands upon polite request. She is in the wrong here!
Raise a complaint if you feel strong enough x
Even if a referral does happen, I would wager that all that would happen is that the social worker would complete an initial assessment, which would probably just involve speaking to you to see if you feel you're coping and doing well, and speaking to mental health services to see if you are engaging with them and that they don't have any concerns for the effect of your OCD on your parenting. As you are engaging with mental health services, your OCD is improving and does not affect your parenting then you will have nothing at all to worry about.
But I do understand that it is alarming and upsetting to think that a referral might happen. You'll be fine, honestly. The midwife does sound a bit over zealous and not at all sensitive of her handling of this, but she is just trying to ensure the best for you and your baby really.
I'm a social worker, by the way.
Thanks everyone for the replies, I feel reassured! I intend to put in a complaint about the midwife - I have a letter written from the problems I had at the blood test but I hadn't sent it because she's the only midwife in the village and DH was worried about me making things more difficult since it doesn't look like we could change her. I think I'll just add to it and send it after we stop dealing with her. NanaNina yes my anxiety is very specific to hep C/HIV/listeria/toxo. I did have handwashing issues but they've massively reduced since Christmas and the mental health team were (pleasantly) shocked when they saw me in January by how much progress I'd made. Actually the midwife was too but she said it didn't matter that I was getting better because I might get worse after the birth. I know the MH team and also the private therapist I see have said they will speak to CS and say they have no concerns about me and I'm working well on my issues. The MH social worker is going to speak to the midwife too as she doesn't think the report she makes will be accurate as she so poorly understands my issues. Both the therapist and MH team will stay involved after the birth just in case. I feel stuck now because until I 'prove' I'm not as crazy as the midwife says I can't really complain about her as I fear it will just be seen as a symptom or proof I have something to hide, I had a really good session with an active birthing coach yesterday but again I'm frightened now that if I try to make any choices about the birth other than what the midwives tell me to do that they'll put it down to MH.
Thanks for replying again ItIsn'tReallyReal, I had a whooping cough injection after that blood test, I explained my issues to the practice nurse and without me even needing to be specific she had the cotton pad/plaster in a clean kidney dish, and she made a point of showing me that she was washing her hands before getting the equipment out and then again before touching my arm. Which was all I'd wanted the midwife to do when she kicked up such a fuss!
Glad you are re-assured. To be honest I'm not sure that complaining about the midwife is the way forward, given that your MH social worker and private therapist are both going to talk to her, and they are both going to stay involved after the birth. I think that it's really helpful that your MH SW is going to talk to the midwife as she will be professionally knowledgeable on the issue of OCD whereas it's very doubtful that the midwife has any real understanding of the issues. That's probably at the root of her concerns, she may not have come across it before and as I said before is "covering her back" - I would have thought though that she would have (with your permission) discussed your problems with your MH social worker before making a referral.
Maybe you could talk to the midwife about how you feel about this referral and ask why she didn't think to talk to your MH SW who could have re-assured her that there were no concerns, and that she intends to stay in touch after the birth in any event. Probably a better way than making a formal complaint. In fairness to the midwife I think these days they do have to take more note of MH issues in pregnancy and how these might affect the mother and baby after the birth.
I get what you're saying NanaNina, I do think it's a lack of understanding on her part. I'm qualified as a social worker - though I worked in an older person's social work team never children- and I really wouldn't want to put in a EVERYTHING IN CAPS LOCK type complaint. Having said that I do feel I want to feed back formally the aspects of her approach that were unhelpful - she's a young midwife so she'll be in practice a long time, and I do feel that the way she's dealt with the situation could have done a lot of damage to someone who was more vulnerable than I am. Although I'll admit I feel personally aggrieved I hope it's more than that too, I feel if I don't give feedback then there's no chance she'll change her approach to women with mental health problems. Maybe she won't anyway but I feel like I have to try.
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