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Grumpy Midwives!

(17 Posts)
WeeS Sat 19-Jan-13 13:21:31

Firstly sorry for the long post! I'm new to all this & wondering if any of you have had similar experiences with your mw.

I'm 16+3 wks with my first baby & me and DP are very happy & excited smile The only thing is, every mw I have met, with the exception of one, has been pretty narky and pretty unhelpful. I'm wondering is it just me?

I had expected that I would be guided and advised by the community mw and I had this person in my head to be someone friendly that I would be able to speak to about anything. The first mw we saw was exactly like this. But every appointment I've had since has been with someone different, and altogether a lot less cheerier!

At my booking appointment the mw wasnt the worst, but she appeared a bit flustered filling in the notes and ended up ticking lots of wrong boxes including the one about whether I want a blood transfusion if needed where she ticked NO when I said yes. Basically my notes are all scribbled out and a mess. It didn't leave me feeling very confident.

At wk 13 I was told, by my mw unit on the phone, to go up to their unit for a blood test to test for immunity to chickenpox as my BIL came down with Shingles on Christmas Day (& I've never had chickenpox). Firstly I was reprimanded by the mw for being there as I could potentially pass on chicken pox to someone in the hospital - which I understand, but I was told to go there! Then when she was taking blood & couldnt get any out (I have a phobia of blood/needles/veins, which I had warned her of) she gave me into trouble for 'thinking too much' and said 'it's your own fault you're like this'. When I asked her to remove the needle and give me a breather she did so, tossed the needle in the bin, said 'if that's what you want, I don't want to be accused of abuse!' then stormed out the room. shock My mother and I were speechless! She returned a 5 mins later, managed to toake blood & I got out of there asap! We laughed it off at home thinking it was a one-off.

I had my 16wk mw appointment this week and was disappointed to find another new face, just as grumpy and narky as the last. I had a list of concerns I wanted to ask her about but in the end I only asked her a couple after they were met with patrionising and sharp responses. She was also quite rude to my DP who was with me when he asked her a couple of questions.

Please tell me, am I expecting too much? I know it's their job, and everyone has a down-day at work and gets fed up with it all, but I had at least expected a friendly face and to be able to talk to them.

I was just feeling a bit disappointed with it all, but now after writing it down, I'm pretty peed off! What do I do if one of these grumps is assigned to deliver my baby?!?! Argh!!!


Eletheomel Sat 19-Jan-13 13:32:29

WeeS - I'm really sorry for your mw experiences so far, as far as I'm concerned part of the duties of anyone in healthcare, esp midwifery is good social skills, getting patients to relax and being there to answer questions, as far as I'm concerned it looks as though the mw you've seen have either all been having a bad day (not sure what staffing is like where you are) are are generally grumpy individuals!

This is my second child and I attend our hospital for my ante-natal appointments (I see my community midwife on and off, but as I straddle 2 health boards they don't really take over until the baby is here).

I can honestly say I've met lots of midwifes during my care (due to shifts at hospital etc) and they've all been exactly as you expected them to be, friendly, informative and chatty. The only time we had a midwife who was a bit quiet and didnt speak, was when I attended a routine 39wk appointment when expecting my son, and it transpired I had severe pre-eclampsia (clearly she was thinking about all that needed to happen - which I totally understand, but she was never rude, just focused on the job in hand).

I've also had a midwife unable to take blood, and after several attempts (one of which was quite painful as needle went too far in) she just said she'd get another one of the midwives who was better at taking blood as she wasn't getting anywhere, really friendly and apologetic - not blaming me!

In fact, even if they are short staffed and busy, the last scan appointment I had the clinic was really full was busy all morning, we were taken an hour late, when we got in the midwife seeing us hadn't had a break all morning (no-one had) and was telling us how busy it was, but she was still cheery and friendly and asked if we had any questions, they were clearly run off their feet but everyone was still professional.

I don't know if you get a choice over which midwife you get to see, but if I was in your position I'd feel like requesting the 'cheery' midwife!

At least I can reassure you, not all midwifes are like the ones you've encountered!

cansu Sat 19-Jan-13 13:36:26

I think it's difficult to say. I remember being a bit disappointed in the midwives I saw in my first pregnancy esp in the first part of pregnancy but in retrospect I think there is probably little for midwife to do in early pregnancy beyond the usual routine checks and I guess they may well get a bit jaded and bored of discussing the same pfb questions. I am not saying they are right but I think that could be the explanation. I actually found the midwife with my second baby better and I think I probably had v different expectations. Also I noticed that you get more time and attention towards the end of your pregnancy probably because this is a more critical time. I think maybe you need to separate out what are genuine medical pregnancy questions and concerns from stuff that you quite like to talk about. I was pretty obsessed by my pregnancy and used to read baby mags and all sorts of stuff. Maybe they are v busy and just don't have the time to discuss stuff that isn't directly related to the safety of your pregnancy? However I think the experience you describe when blood was taken is pretty unpleasant and unprofessional.

angeltattoo Sat 19-Jan-13 13:38:44

It depends what you are expecting of them exactly.

Although of course, they should always be professional and polite.

Were you given an antenatal care pathway? I was, and they are downloadable from the hospital website where I am. This is a list of when and what to expect at each appointment. Or the NICE guideline should do the same.

Once you know what to expect from them, you can compare this to what they are expected to give you in terms of care and appointments.

There's not a lot they can do about your needle phobia, when they need to take a blood sample and you consent to them taking blood. Although she shouldn't have been rude.

Is there anything specific you have concerns about, with regards to what their role of midwife is?

worsestershiresauce Sat 19-Jan-13 13:40:23

The midwives I have met have ranged between terse and disinterested to sweet but incompetent. I try to be charitable and put this down to over work, but sometimes I think they just can't be arsed with the routine side of things as it is a bit boring. If any midwives are reading this, please be nice to us new mums, being pregnant is a bit daunting and kindness costs nothing.

Phineyj Sat 19-Jan-13 13:46:05

I think the main problem is, we do it once or twice and it is a big deal for us -- but not for them. Plus working in the NHS makes them cross, understandably.

I got an independent midwife for this reason (incidentally the reason she is independent is because she didn't like the impersonal way she had to provide care in the NHS).

spotsdots Sat 19-Jan-13 14:18:09

My previous MW was what I expected, professional but friendly. We didn't exchange our holiday ideas etc grin but I was comfortable enough to ask her anything with regards to being pregnant.

The current mw is very cheery but I quickly realised that behind her smile there were too many things that left me very uncomfortable. Especially with regards to expectant mothers who have disabilities. I'm now only seeing the GP and the hospital MWs (have been seen by different ones but all have been friendly).

I don't expect the mw to be my best buddy, but I expect them to treat me as an individual not just another expectant woman.

OP try and ask to be seen by the very first mw you liked, if not consider being seen by the mw at the hospital (assuming its not too far).

HelenLynn Sat 19-Jan-13 14:26:26

I think the rudeness over taking blood and the brusque responses of the 16wk midwife that put you off asking the rest of your questions aren't really acceptable. I'm not sure what I'd do though; I've just been having a look through this leaflet about supervisors of midwives which my GP gave me along with my hand-held notes, and it provides an avenue for passing on your concerns about midwifery care, but I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to go down that route before actually having the baby unless they were able to assure me I'd remain anonymous! I should admit to being a bit of a grumpy old woman myself, perhaps more likely than other people to indulge in bosom-hoiking and Making A Complaint Through The Proper Channels smile

As far as the birth goes, one source of support you probably do have more control over is your birth partner, and you can try to make sure they're well informed and prepared to be assertive. The midwives who looked after me when I had my first were nicer to me and more engaged than the community midwives in general (which isn't to say I wasn't happy with the community ones, with a couple of stony-faced exceptions who I had the misfortune to have to let into my house after we came back from hospital). I suppose an actual labouring woman is a bit more interesting than the fifth one with a bump and a jar of wee of the morning!

purrpurr Sat 19-Jan-13 14:31:44

All the midwives I've met have been terse and impersonal. One woman grumbled on about her back pain whilst stabbing me ineffectually, trying to get a blood sample. These midwives have been so... conveyor belt-esque about me as a pregnant individual, so terse and impersonal that I've been left unable to ask questions or discuss anything I'm concerned about. I'm not asking for us to braid each other's hair or whatever. I don't think it's unreasonable to receive care from someone who actually gives a shit. Pardon me for saying so.

The last midwife I met was lovely. She let me listen to my baby's heartbeat for the first time, at 17 weeks. She then found it again for me so I could record it on my phone for my husband. When I said she was lovely and thanked her for the effort taken, it turned out she was temporarily covering the area due to staffing shortages, so I wouldn't be seeing her again. I could've cried. I still could. I'm supposed to be seeing the midwife next week and I just shudder to think who I'll meet this time. The endless merry go round of cats bum faced midwives. Yay.

TwitchyTail Sat 19-Jan-13 15:09:09

All the midwives I've had have been pleasant and helpful. I've seen a different one each time (so about five in total!), but this hasn't bothered me. I didn't go in expecting a personal touch or a friend, but I did expect a reasonably friendly professional to do the basic checks, answer questions, and pick up on and refer me on for any problems, which is what I've got.

I would definitely speak to the supervisor of midwives about your week 13 experience as that was certainly unacceptable. While seeing the same person each time may not be feasible in a busy area, I don't think it is at all unreasonable to expect friendliness, courtesy, and someone willing to answer your questions.

rainand Sat 19-Jan-13 15:14:22

I've seen two so far, one was nice but completely rushed off her feet, and the other one was rude, very unfriendly and didn't even bother asking how I was doing. I'm changing practices so hoping ill have a better experience with other midwives.

Missingthemincepies Sat 19-Jan-13 15:46:36

The midwives I've had have been great, even if sometimes rushed, they can't help that. They've always phoned me back when I have questions and even remembered me this time around (DS is 2.5). Does help that they are a small group.
Please complain about your treatment. If you don't, it will stay the same for all the women coming after you. Write to the supervisor of midwives, stating facts and how it made you feel, rather than attributing blame. Maybe the midwives won't be that friendly, but they should always be professional and open to questions.

WeeS Sat 19-Jan-13 16:31:35

Hello again, thanks for all your replies and advice! smile I might mention it, particularly my wk13 experience,at my appointment with the obstetrician next week. HelenLynn, thanks for the link I'll have a look! Not sure that I'm brave enough to put it in writing though haha (love the term bosom-hoiking pmsl)

I guess I just feel a little helpless in not knowing what's going on and what is due to happen at each appointment. And perhaps appearing a bit clueless to a mw, who probably feels like all she does all day everyday is explain the same stuff over and over, gets boring. I'm not expecting them to be all pally and pretend to be my best friend and chat about non-pregnancy related stuff, I just think a bit of humanity and a gentler tone would be a lot nicer. As worsestershiresauce says, kindness costs nothing. But it sounds like I need to man up and just take what I can get smile

Perhaps I ought to just make an appointment with the GP to ask the questions that were worrying me. I have suffered with alopecia & just got signed off from the dermatologist shortly before finding another bald patch - argh! I have a steroid foam but not sure whether safe to use whilst pregnant, so havent used it yet. I also had a Q re sciatica which I've suffered from the last few years and which unluckily for me has made a reappearance. The other Qs were regarding local classes but I'll just google it! Thank goodness for Google, don't know what I'd do without it smile

angeltattoo - I'll look again through my notes for an antenatal pathway and if notI'll download it & NICE guidelines. Thanks smile

angeltattoo Sat 19-Jan-13 17:36:29

In that case weeS, I think you should book an appointment with your GP, or request a non-routine midwife appointment, it really isn't on if you need to know what medications you can take, they are definitely there to answer these questions and reassure you!

Also, don't hesitate to phone the midwife team at any point if you need questions answered.


WeeS Sat 19-Jan-13 19:10:48

Thanks angeltattoo smile I think I'll do that.

TwitchyTail Sat 19-Jan-13 19:30:44

I would definitely see your GP about the alopecia/steroid/sciatica issues - or ask the obstetrician when you see them - as they are more specialist medical areas that the midwife probably doesn't know the answers to (although rather than being abrupt she could have just advised you nicely to book in with your GP!) I would expect her to know about local classes, or at least to signpost you in the right direction though.

I wouldn't bother mentioning your experiences to the obstetrician as he or she will not be in a management / supervisory position to the midwives, so it's a bit pointless (and will take up time that could be better spent discussing other issues). The supervisor of midwives is the right person to approach. If you don't want to put it in writing, you can always call and speak to them by telephone (or even make an appointment to do it in person), and this is much more likely to get you a satisfactory result.

HelenLynn Sat 19-Jan-13 20:14:51

For straightforward queries such as "can I take x while pregnant" where I don't need an actual discussion or someone to look at me, I ring our GP surgery and ask if a doctor could call me back about it. That way I'm not taking up a whole appointment slot and they can fit me in if they get a no-show or whatever. I don't know whether it's usual for GPs to be happy to do this (they always do seem happy, and I think it makes sense from the practice's point of view as well).

I'd love to take credit for "bosom-hoiking", but I caught it from another MNer; I think the syndrome is fairly endemic around here!

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