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What is a health visitor?(24 Posts)
This is an honest question, I've tried googling but am not really getting a clear idea as to what a health visitor is/does.
I am pregnant with my first and am not from the UK. I don't really know anyone who has had children here, so forgive my ignorance, but what is a health visitor?
From what I gather they are a person (nurse?) that comes to your house to check if baby is ok after the birth? How many times do they come back?
I will have a lot of family around at that time and would prefer to enjoy the time with my Mum and baby than worry about someone coming to inspect my living conditions Its making me kind of anxious and I would just like to know what to expect. How long dose it go on for? I read somewhere 5 years?! Is that really the case?
Sorry if I sound alarmist I am just not used to this level of monitoring etc and was taken aback.
Thanks for enlightening me!
A necessary evil.
To well read, well informed MC mums with supportive partners and healthy babies, they are out of date, infuriating wastes of space.
To mums struggling, for whatever reason they can be a life line.
Surely they are just infuriating to well read well, informed mums? Why do you have to be middle class too? Or does mc mean something else?
You don't have to see the HV at all if you don't want to.
They are not usually that imposing.
To most parents they just monitor the growth and development of your lo. They do do a bit more than that where necessary. They also offer guidance on baby related matters such as feeding, sleeping, life with a baby/toddler.
In the early days they will probably come to your house once a week/fortnight just to check. They then do developmental checks at varoous intervals. Probably 3-4 times before school.
In addition they run baby clinics where you can take lo to be weighed. And vaccination clinics.
They really shouldn't be imposing. They are there to ensure your lo (and you) are in good overall health until your child goes to school.
Fool but will that cause my baby to be put on some sort of at risk register?
I have a lot of support lined up - lactation consultant, tongue tie specialist, cleaner,
maternity nurse Mum, super supportive DH.. I just don't really want a stranger coming around judging me when I am adjusting. Also, I don't want to have to worry about people judging my house
You may only see your HV 4-6 times in your home in the first 5 years. If you are bf and struggling it may be a bit more than that.
Vaccinations will be on top of that tho, as will baby clinic which is kind of optional.
Mine does 'checks' on the baby every few months, making sure that his weight and milestones are about right. Also, if it hadn't of been for her, my PND would have never been flagged up.
She also does my baby's immunisations too.
I don't know this for sure but I think they are legally supposed to come once after birth, when your handed over from midwife to community health visitor services. In the early week they do some important tests (I can only remember the heel prick one) and try monitor weight and development.
I never found mine all that intrusive, but they were always available when I needed baby weighing or some quick advice. The developmental checks are useful too.
Mince came once when DTs had been home for twn days and we never saw / heard anytihng from her again. Think it varies massivley depending on where you are.
The nhs website says you are under midwife care until ten days after the birth, and then a health visitor will come to your home.
I would accept that visit and the materials you will be given like phone numbers, childrens centre details, etc. and decline further visits, but it is meant to be supportive rather than intrusive, so hopefully you can just make it clear that you have lots of family and other help, without being too defensive.
You don't have to see them. A lot of mothers who have private care otherwise never do and it isn't a problem - it doesn't automatically label your baby 'at risk'.
If you have concerns that you don't want to make a drs appointment for they can be very helpful though.
An HV is a nurse or midwife who has completed a further degree- Specialist Community Health Practitioner (qualified school nurses do the same degree).
In most areas she will take over care, from the midwife, once your baby is 10 days old, providing everything is OK, you and your baby are well and your baby has regained his/her birthweight.
HVs are there to provide advice and support to families with children under 5 years old, once your child starts school care will trnasfer to the school nurse for that school. They may be in the same team as the HV, the 0-19 team. This is what's happening across most PCTs, yours may or may not have caught up yet. No doubt it will change again soon enough but won't really affect the care offered from either service, hopefully.
Standard is a New Birth Visit at approx 2-3 weeks, at home, from an HV to see if there's anything you want help or advice with. It's part of the HVs responsibility to her registered nurse status to keep up to date with latest guidelines and recommendations from the Department of Health so she should be a good source of info for you. Not the only one and not a book of rules but another useful source of information and support to you. She will have lists of the services available to you locally like breastfeeding support groups, mother and baby groups and children's centres in you area. She will also weight and measure your baby, should you want it done. She comes to you, at home, because you've just had a baby and getting out to baby clinic is not easy when you have a 2 week old baby. She is not there to spy on you and report all un-hoovered carpets to social services, she's there to support you in the first 5 years of parenting.
Why would you cut yourself off from this source of information and support if you've no previous experience of the service? Presumably you pay your taxes? You've paid for this service, use it, you might like it! If you don't like her then you don't have to see her again, you can ask for another HV or refuse the service all together if you want to but the health visiting service has been around for more than 100 years (started by Florence Nightingale) and has helped and supported 1000's of families. It works really well for lots of families, regardless of their income or level of education.
No, I know two or three very bright well read non MC mum's.
However, I suspect they are much nicer, less smug and less judgy about their HVs.
My circle contains a lot of science and maths graduates and we are not, I'm afraid, always the most tolerant bunch.
I can see the appeal of the HV service in days of old but honestly? unless you are in a vulnerable group I really don't think most mothers today benefit from having regular HV input.
When I had my first baby I welcomed the advice etc, but with second and now this one years (and years!!) later, I shan't be having one involved at all unless there are problems with baby's weight that needs checking regularly. I know where to access them if I need to (GP surgery usually OP if you don't know that).
Most women tend to just use them at first for getting the babies weighed.
Unfortunately as plenty of threads on MN prove, not all HV experiences are like the rose-tinted view above.
You absolutely do NOT need to have them involved if you don't want them to, it's not mandatory, it's not law, you won't be reported to social servies for declining. I also think that the NHS money could be better deployed really.
I have seen my sons hv once in 16 months but saw my dds hv every 4 weeks till 5 months then not again till she was 3.
Not just areas but even drs surgeries vary - my friends hv never visited she had to go to her at the drs.
I think experiences of HV vary rather alot, some mums use them, some don't. Some value their advice, some don't give a toss. I also think that they're a valuable service and a life line for a lot of mums who don't have the support networks that some mums / parents have.
My HV was amazing, I'm a first time mum and consider myself well informed, however I found that her help, advice and support were invaluable when I had my DS. I had a traumatic birth then cried nonstop for about 2 weeks when I got home, then stressed out about everything because I was tired, hormonal, had a colicky baby who wouldn't BF and was dealing some complex health issues at the same time, She was the calm experienced voice in amongst all the chaos. I would have been lost without her help.
However my HV wasn't from my local GP practice, they were pretty useless if the truth be told, she was a friend of mine who happened to be a HV.
I work for the health visiting service so I have a more varied, wider experience of health visitors than most mums and I would fully agree that not all Health Visitors Are Created Equally. Some are fantastic, some are indifferent and some should have been pensioned off along with Florence Nightingale. However, for the OP to cut herself from a service which could be brilliant and really helpful to her without any experience of it seems daft and very shortsighted.
Except when DS3, who has Downs Syndrome, was born, I've only ever seen the HV once after being discharged by the midwife for a sort of introductory visit and only after that if I've taken my babies to be weighed. They've never offered unsolicited advice and I've never felt like they were inspecting my home of judging me in any way either.
HV is helpful for general baby concerns re feeding and sleeping. You probably won't need breastfeeding counsellors or other specialists. I found my HV useful and reassuring, as a first time mum . It's very unlikely that they would criticise you or your home.
The HV will pop in, say hello, maybe weigh the baby and have a chat about how you are doing. When she sees you have lots of support and are coping well, she will leave you be.
She will be too snowed under trying to provide support to the many families on her caseload who are facing overwhelming challenges, to interfere with you and your little family (unless you ask for more help, or she spots indicators that you may be struggling).
HV for my first - older very experienced nurse, very matter of fact, supportive and loving. Went to her clinic every week for weighing of my scrawny son until he was up to normal weight, and she gave me lots of really good advice and support. I have very fond memories of her.
HV for my 2nd - young newly qualified nurse, no children of her own. Very pleasant and keen, bit of no use to me as a more experienced/relaxed mum.
Both situations were fine, and we are very lucky to have this non-judgemental support system in the UK I feel.
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