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Is it illegal not to have maternity care? Struggling friend

(29 Posts)
Sasha75 Wed 23-Dec-15 14:58:02

I'm posting in regards to a friend. She is 20 and 30 weeks pregnant, has not told anyone apart from me and the babies father (who does not have an interest) when she was 8 weeks pregnant she went to the abortion clinic and had a scan to confirm dates which proved she was 8 weeks (hence how she knows her dates) but it was just a consultation and she was supposed to book an appointment for the actual abortion but never did. I tried to help and I asked her her intentions but she refused to speak about it, there was nothing I could do.

I'm really worried for her and this child as her mental health is not great and she has self harmed in the past and attempted suicide several times (all before she was pregnant) her parents basically gave up on her when she was 16 and she is living on her own in shared accommodation with next to no family so no one I can ask to help her.

She hasn't had any scans or any care and I'm starting to get worried about what she's going to do when In 7-10 weeks she gives birth. I have asked her what she plans to do and she just acts like it will be ok, I don't know if she plans to go in to hospital or to just do it herself?

I have advised her to go to the maternity hospital and state she's pregnant but she's worried she will be in trouble as she has kept it secret and away from medical help or scans for 30 weeks

Drglf Wed 23-Dec-15 15:03:15

She won't be 'in trouble' but it will flag up her mental health issues (hopefully). As a late Booker she is likely to be under consultant care and can be referred to the perinatal mental health team ASAP.
Please encourage your friend to get down to her gp who will contact the local maternity unit. Time is of the essence now as she'll need a bit of extra looking after and scans etc ASAP.

Christmascheerful Wed 23-Dec-15 15:04:01

Hopefully someone will be along with a clear answer as I'm not sure if it's "illegal" but she can't just turn up at a hospital in labour...she needs to be booked in etc. Does she have parents/family who you could speak to? The only thing I can think of is speaking to a professional like social services? Sorry your friend is in this position flowers

Want2bSupermum Wed 23-Dec-15 15:06:45

I would offer to go with her. She is probably feeling very vunerable and worried about potentially being 'in trouble' for not going sooner. How lovely of you to support her.

Samantha28 Wed 23-Dec-15 15:06:57

Yes, she won't be in trouble but she needs to get some medical care now .

Sometimes health problems develop in late pregnancy and she might not notice the symptoms until it's too late. Would it help if you offered to go to the doctors with her?

She doesn't need to keep the baby if she doesn't want to, but whatever she decided to do, she needs professional help .

You sound like a good friend flowers

Samantha28 Wed 23-Dec-15 15:07:25

X posted with super mum

Samantha28 Wed 23-Dec-15 15:08:44

And of course , she can just turn up at the hospital in labour! But it's not ideal, for her or the baby . And it would be very frightening for her .

NormaStanleyFletcher Wed 23-Dec-15 15:10:46

I would echo what the others have said.

Try to persuade her to see a gp , and offer to go with her if you can.

RNBrie Wed 23-Dec-15 15:11:31

It isn't illegal and she can just turn up at any hospital in labour. They can't refuse you care if you're in labour. Anyone can book in to one hospital and turn up at another in labour. It's not good sense but they won't send her away.

She won't be in trouble but she could get an arse of a midwife who tells her off.

Encourage her to book in somewhere, she should take someone with her if possible to make sure she's treated fairly. This isn't a crisis at all, but if you can get her to see someone then that would be the best case scenario. Good luck.

alltouchedout Wed 23-Dec-15 15:13:59

It's not illegal and she can just turn up at a hospital, or indeed birth unassisted at home. (Not advocating either option but usu ally in these discussions someone says how the former isn't possible and the latter illegal, which isn't true at all).

Sound like she does want to access services now though, so reassure her she won't be 'in trouble' (not to say they won't ask a lot of questions as it's an unusual situation) and that she would be able to get much more help doing this than not.

Ikeameatballs Wed 23-Dec-15 15:19:19

Your friend's late booking/unhooked delivery is likely to raise several flags, firstly in relation to her own housing and mental health issues but also would, in the area I work in, trigger a safeguarding referral to Children's Services to consider how well she will be able to meet her baby's needs once he/she is born.

I would urge your friend to seek medical attention as soon as possible as the longer this goes on the harder it will be to ensure that your friend has enough support and can meet her baby's needs before the baby is born. In addition your friend is putting herself at significant risk of harm. At the worst both her and the baby could die from complications that could be prevented.

Do you think your friend may be considering relinquishing the baby for adoption but not feel able to voice this to anyone?

I would suggest arranging a GP appointment with your friend and attending with her if possible. If she won't go with you then I would attend the appointment in her absence and explain your concerns. Whilst they won't be able to share any information with you they should be able to listen to what you say and act upon that information. I would tell your friend in advance that this is what you will do if she won't come with you.

Christmascheerful Wed 23-Dec-15 15:21:15

Apologies for my wrong info!! I really thought you had to be booked in and couldn't turn up! I suppose that's very mean. Sorry for any confusion op

abbsismyhero Wed 23-Dec-15 15:23:12

she needs to tell them she has been in total denial about the pregnancy and that she has realised she needs prenatal care now she also needs to get things sorted from her end as regards things for the baby safe environment for the baby etc etc if they can see she has had an issue and dealt with it they are likely to offer support but not have massive concerns

Sasha75 Wed 23-Dec-15 15:29:37

Thanks for all your comments. I have really no idea what she intends to do, I think she is just acting like nothing is happening but when I was with her (and using you tube on her phone) the videos she has viewed are alone child birth type videos so I'm becoming increasingly concerned. I don't know who the father is, she has told me his name and a bit about him but I don't personally know him or of him so I can't contact him either.

She has never been to the hospital/doctors about her mental health issues before but it's apparent that she has them. She was hospitalised twice for overdoses but refused mental health care and has scars all over her stomach and legs from self harming. we used to be very close and she used to talk to me about these issues and she said that she self harms because "voices tell her to" I'm also becoming concerned because she seems to be taking at least 2 codeine tablets a day (which are prescribed to her for serve migraines but she's been taking them near on every day to fall asleep)

My mum has also suggested trying to get her sectioned but I don't know if she's at the stage of needing that or if it would be beneficial to her?

christinarossetti Wed 23-Dec-15 15:40:42

Her primary need is antenatal care, which will include mh care.

Have you suggested going to her GP with her?

Curlywurly4 Wed 23-Dec-15 16:00:54

I would start with the GP and go from there. She definitely won't be in any trouble. Who is prescribing the codeine?

seven201 Wed 23-Dec-15 16:06:56

If you know which GP surgery she's with I would ring them up and let them know. It may well be they say you have to let social services know. You need to do something. Poor thing!

TattieHowkerz Wed 23-Dec-15 16:14:03

It's not really a case of trying to get her sectioned. Just try to get her to the GP, and highlight all the issues you and her mum are concerned about. If needed the GP will arrange for her to be sectioned, you don't need to request it. Her Mum could maybe contact the GP beforehand if you are concerned about talking openly in front of her. Good luck, you sound like a nice friend.

PickleBot Wed 23-Dec-15 17:21:09

You can make an appointment with a GP to discuss someone else's problems if you are worried about them. Phone her doctor's surgery and make an appointment and I'm sure they'll tell you what they can and can't do. Also your local maternity hospital will have a mw who has special training in mental health issues and how they relate to pregnancy and birth.

Junosmum Wed 23-Dec-15 17:30:45

Firstly, no it isn't illegal for her to have no maternity/ pre-natal care. It also isn't illegal for her to birth alone, even intentionally. It IS illegal for someone (e.g. you) to knowingly help with the labour without informing a medical professional, so be careful you don't get roped in to something- call an ambulance without her consent if necessary.

The bigger issue is obviously her mental health and the welfare of herself and her child. Soon she will be forced to confront the situation as she will go into labor however it would obviously be better for all for her seek help now, for both MH and general health care.

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Wed 23-Dec-15 17:35:57

As a pregnant woman she is the patient so cannot be forced to accept medical care, but during labour the baby becomes the patient so deliberately giving birth unassisted is illegal I believe.
Although she can't be forced to have antenatal care it's a huge red flag for child neglect and mental health difficulties so she needs to be flagged up to children's services immediately.

Lightbulbon Wed 23-Dec-15 17:58:42

You need to call your areas childrens social work team. They aren't going to take her baby away just because she was a late Booker but they will co ordinate the support she will need.

Whatdoidohelp Wed 23-Dec-15 18:06:44

You must report this. Can you go to her GP?

allthegoodnamesalreadytaken Wed 23-Dec-15 18:53:42

It's not illegal but they are highly likely to report her to social services when she does present at hospital to give birth because of the suspicious nature of not accessing antenatal care. If she presents now then there is more of a chance they can do a proper assessment of her mental health prior to the birth of the baby and less likely it will be removed from her care at birth. If she won't do it then you need to consider making an anonymous referral to your local children services department. It will be to her benefit in the long run

Jibberjabberjooo Wed 23-Dec-15 19:11:56

You need to tell someone about this, GP, midwife or social services. Her wanting to give birth alone is worrying. What is she going to do with the baby?

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