The first three months of our pregnancy was pretty traumatic. And yes I am saying our because this is a shared experience and my husband needs to take responsibility for the part he played in putting twins inside me!
A mere four hours after finding out that we were definitely pregnant I started bleeding, cue a rush to the GP to be told too it was too early to tell if I was miscarrying. An early pregnancy scan revealed a big bleed and two heartbeats, there was a lot of uncertainty. In the weeks that followed I had two big bleeds and further emergency scans. Each time though our babies pulled through. In addition we found out I was pregnant just as I started a new job so I would not be getting proper occupational maternity pay and discovering the cost of childcare for both being more than my wage nearly gave me an aneurism. It would be fair to say that we had had a fair amount of stress during the first trimester and I didn’t stop bleeding until about 18 weeks.
But this isn’t the purpose of this piece; this is just background information so you can understand the stress I was under. I am writing because of a few issues I had with my initial midwife and consultant. I won’t go into a lot of detail but essentially I just couldn’t communicate with them and as a result I was worried that my health concerns and checks would not be properly managed.
Anyway I got to breaking point. I spoke to friends who had had different levels of care and my husband and I discussed it over a period of a few weeks and we came to the decision to try and do something about it. Both being nurses we are used to dealing with consultants and I was aware that they were fewer and further between so harder to see someone else but your nurse needs to be good. There needs to be open communication and you need to feel safe and supported by this person. This is the person holding your hand through one of the most profound, exciting and scary experiences of your life and there needs to be an effective therapeutic relationship.
Being a nurse I know my rights with regards to choice over my care provider, although I haven’t had anyone ask for a change from myself thus far I have 9 or 10 people on my caseload who haven’t wanted to see their surgery’s nurse for whatever reason. I rang the midwife manager, explained that it wasn’t working out with my midwife and requested a change. I was offered a new midwife on the spot, it was that easy. She told me that she gets this phone call once a week. I didn’t feel the need to whinge about my midwife, I did wonder if it was just a clash of personalities but I did complain about the consultant and was praised by the manager for sticking up for myself during the appointment. To my surprise I was also offered a change of consultant which I quickly took up.
Being pregnant is hard enough without feeling like you aren’t being listened to, respected or supported. I would encourage anyone who doesn’t feel like they could call their midwife in an emergency or even to ask a routine question to request a change. It’s unlikely to be taken personally and this is your pregnancy, you don’t owe anyone anything other than yourself piece of mind. It may feel daunting and as Brits we tend not to like to be seen as causing a fuss but getting good care for the rest of your pregnancy is worth a five minute awkward conversation. This goes for not only antenatal care but any nurse, health visitor, social worker or GP who you don’t feel is responding to your needs. You can even change surgery if you like.
If you are struggling with anxiety or any other mental health difficulties during pregnancy there are a number of places you can turn to for help including my team. You can access a primary care mental health nurse through your GP. In Gloucestershire you can self-refer to Let’s Talk for free cognitive behavioural therapy and will have expedited treatment if you are pregnant or have a child up to one year. There is also an organisation called Footsteps which offers free counselling for any pregnancy or birth related problems.
A Guest Blog from Kit Gillett
Kit lives in Cirencester with her husband, cat, two dogs and their double bump (twin pregnancy). She is a psychiatric nurse trained in EMDR and massage. She enjoys baking, crafting, local exploration and sofa cuddles with whichever member of her little family is happy to indulge her at the time. You can follow her on Instagram.