One to One

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The NHS is a wonderful thing, but it’s well reported that there’s a shortage of 2300 midwives nationally. And with this coinciding with an 18% increase in birth rate it’s a recipe for disaster.

Frustrated by the budget cuts and not being able to provide the care they want to, many midwives say they’re thinking of leaving the profession, and there’s a sad irony that some of then are going to private midwife services such as One to One midwives, available to patients via the NHS.

Yup, private midwives, funded by the NHS. I’m no expert but surely that doesn’t help the budget cuts?

Switch to patient mode, however, and this seems to me to be the most fantastic thing to happen to maternity care since, well, tea and toast post labour.

I’ve never had a bad experience with the NHS, but the benefits were obvious – one to one care (hence the name) with a named midwife who’s available on the end of the phone for any concerns you might have, and who does your appointments at your home at a time convenient to you. And it wouldn’t cost me a penny.

One to One operate on a ‘case load’ model which essentially means each midwife has a certain number of women to provide full care for during their pregnancy – this is the ‘gold standard’ of midwifery care and I have recommended it to every pregnant friend I’ve seen since!

Having appointments at home after work was the clincher for me. As a working mum in a demanding job, not having to trudge home and back for appointments in the middle of the day would prove to be a godsend. And this was underlined when I had to have a Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT) to check for diabetes – instead of at least half a day sitting round in a hospital, my midwife came to my home in the morning to take the first blood test, and I was able to work from home until it was time for the second. Perfect.

And speaking of my midwife, Lisa was an absolute star. I never once felt rushed at appointments, and I was able to chat freely about anything that was bothering me. Because she showed a genuine interest in my life, I felt comfortable talking about pretty much anything however minor it may have seemed, meaning I felt more relaxed and confident about the pregnancy and labour. A stark contrast to other appointments I’d had, where with the best will in the world a person you only see for maybe 10 minutes isn’t going to be able to get you to open up about the things that are bothering you deep down. Even my older daughter loved it when Lisa came round, and Lisa showed endless patience when G wanted to show her what she’s done at school, or help her check on baby.

If you have a straightforward pregnancy – and particularly if you want a home birth – then a service like One to One is a no brainer if it’s available. Your named midwife will be the one with you throughout your labour, birth, and for after care up to when baby is 6 weeks old.

For hospital / birth centre births or if you have any complications in your pregnancy, there are a few niggles, but these are more ‘wouldn’t it be nice if’ rather than being problems in their own right.

For example, your One to One midwife can’t be with you at your hospital/birth centre birth, you’re over to the hospital for that. However if your labour starts at home your midwife can come out to check on you during early labour, to avoid the risk of rocking up at hospital too early only to be sent home which can be incredibly demoralising.

I ended up being induced with C and this was the thing I was most terrified of, so would have loved Lisa to be able to support me through this. And during my labour with C I was reminded of the NHS midwife shortage when a room on the labour ward wasn’t free for me until more than half way through active labour, and a labour ward midwife wasn’t available until around the last hour. That and the fact that it took me having a mini hormonal melt down in the corridors, 2 days into what was starting to look like an unsuccessful induction, for a midwife to actually look at my birth plan which told them about my fear of hospitals and my anxiety if I don’t know what’s going on.

It’s also slightly frustrating that if you need any prescriptions or referrals (eg for physio) during your pregnancy you have to book a doctors appointment to request it. With an NHS midwife my experience is that they write out the script and pop next door to a doctor to authorise it there and then. Going from the convenience of at home midwife care to the scrum for doctors appointments in the morning was a slight frustration and perhaps a sign that private midwife care hasn’t been fully accepted into the NHS just yet.

Speaking of which, I never quite figured out if the NHS staff I saw were a bit put out by me using One to One, or if they were simply curious as it’s quite new. There were certainly a few blank faces when I explained I didn’t see the local community midwife team, a few sideways glances as they nonchalantly asked “so, why did you choose to go with them?”, and a couple of outright refusals to look at my One to One notes and look instead just at the few early pregnancy notes written in the green NHS folder.

But these are minor niggles, and having had this experience I wouldn’t do it any other way. I would love the NHS to be able to adopt this model themselves, but in the meantime I can’t recommend a service such as One to One enough.

One to One operate in areas of the north west and are expanding into new areas all the time. To use them you self refer by contacting One to One yourself. This post is all my own views based on the care I received, I’ve been given no incentives to write about One to One, I just think they’re fab!

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The New Arrival

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I’ve been quiet over the last few days, and I’m sure you can imagine why!

On the 19th December at 5:12am, a full 13 days after her due date, we welcomed the latest addition to our family, who will henceforth be known as C. She’s pictured above tucked up under the Jones household Christmas tree, an early Christmas present even if she arrived somewhat later than we had hoped!

It’s customary at this point to share slightly too much information about the miracle / trauma of childbirth, so without being anywhere near as explicit as my husband’s blog on the birth of our first child, here goes!

(This is going to be quite long, so feel free to skip if you’re not interested in the details!)

11 days after baby’s due date, we were booked into hospital for induction. Now with more than a little leaning towards natural / slightly ‘new age’ childbirth, I was loathe to be induced, particularly prior to 42 weeks (despite common misconception, you aren’t technically overdue until past the magic 42 week point), but also because it’s generally agreed that intervention in kicking off labour has a tendency to spiral into further interventions, ending up with my worst possible scenario, an emergency caesarean section (let’s just say I’m not good with hospitals!).

However, given all the signs were that this would be an even bigger baby than our firstborn (all 9lbs 15ozs of her), I was as keen as anyone to not leave her to grow too much more.

Despite a slow start which left me wondering whether the whole process would be a waste of time, labour eventually kicked in during the early hours of Thursday morning. With the midwife confirming I was already 4cm after just 30 minute of contractions, there was a quick call to wake up the other half.

Then it REALLY kicked in, so that with no need for further intervention I was soon encouraging the midwife to transfer me downstairs to the delivery suite despite it being somewhat busy, apparently thanks to that week’s full moon.

Downstairs at last, and asked if I wanted to try gas and air to help with the pain, my answer was an immediate “hell yes!”, and I think I actually snatched the mouthpiece off the midwife. The gas helped both to take the edge off the contractions and to give me a focus for breathing through them, as by now they were coming thick and fast. And thankfully unlike my last labour – where the gas sent me off into my own little world where I was barely aware of what was going on – I was able to stay ‘with it’ throughout.

(I say thankfully, but perhaps given the ‘mildly traumatic’ nature of my labour with G it might have been just as well!)

They say that labour is expected to progress at around 1cm dilation per hour until you reach the necessary 10cm, so I doubted it when I started feeling the urge to push just 3 hours later. The midwife confirmed I was ready to go but encouraged me to take my time, and so it was than an hour later C made her appearance.

A little shocked at first, she was clearly none too happy at being wrest from her cosy hideaway. So much so that she made her first act out of utero the gift of a huge poo all over, well, just about everything. Let’s hope this isn’t a sign of things to come.

We always knew she was going to be a good sized baby but nonetheless we were all a little surprised when she tipped the scales at a hefty 5.15kg (11lbs 5ozs). In fact the midwife exclaimed that C was the largest baby she’d ever delivered!

A few hours later, with paperwork and other necessities completed (I promised I wouldn’t go into graphic detail after all!) the full impact of delivering an 11lbs 5ozs baby hit me when I realised my back and stomach muscles seemed to have given up completely, and it was another hour or so before I was able to get to my feet with a lot of help. Quite how ladies manage after a c section is beyond me!

3 days later, and back home at last, we’re slowly heading towards some sense of normality (if normality includes all night feeding sessions, which apparently it now does…). But I still want to update my Christmas list for Santa.

Let’s just say that now I’ve got my baby safe and sound, all I want for Christmas is the safe return of my pelvic floor.

Don’t suppose anyone has seen it recently?

Overdue

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So here we are again!

I’m now 8 days overdue with nary a niggle to suggest anything might happen soon.

I went into labour naturally with G at 9 days over, so I have high hopes for things kicking off tonight, but we’ll see.

I kept getting asked through pregnancy how this compared to my first, and the only answer I could give was ‘kind of the same, but a little bit more‘.

I didn’t have much morning sickness first time. This time, a bit more.

The heartburn. Oh, the heartburn! This time, dammit, a bit more.

My hips were a pain last time. This time, a bit more, and my back decided to join in too.

My wrists played up last time. This time, full blown carpal tunnel in both so definitely a bit more.

I had a big bump last time. This time, a bit more.

I went 9 days over last time. This time, will it be a bit more too?

The one thing that has changed is my choice of overdue distraction techniques. Last time round, living in Manchester’s Trendy Northern Quarter (TM), we wandered / waddled round the local pubs (diet coke for me!) and curry houses, went to the cinema and even gigs, and, er, baked bread, apparently.

This time suburbia and a 4 year old means I’ve instead spent my time shepherding G round ballet and football classes, Christmas fairs and nativity plays, sewing, crocheting and, of course, sleeping. Not that I’m complaining, particularly regards the latter.

With the threat of induction looming next week I’ve been throwing the book at ‘Operation Baby Out!’ with all the old wives tales, none of which I really think work, but have got to be worth a try.

So far this has included curry, pineapple, spicy fajitas, acupuncture, clary sage, evening primrose, raspberry leaf tea, walking and a LOT of bouncing on the birth ball.

We’ll have to leave it for baby to arrive to decide whether any of them have had an effect…

Are you sure it’s not twins?

Some things are inevitable when you’re pregnant.

But it’s not just the obvious things – it’s the morning sickness that doesn’t stick to its designated morning slot, the inexplicable weeping at anything vaguely heartwarming (Christmas adverts it appears are amongst the worst culprits), and the way that suddenly a growing bump becomes public property; open for anyone to touch, coo and comment over at any opportunity.

It’s enough to make you think nobody has ever seen a pregnant woman before, and the exchanges become increasingly predictable from about 26 weeks onwards:

“So, when are you due?”
“Not for a few months yet!”
“Really? You’re huge!”
“Uh…”
“Are you sure they’ve got the dates right?”
“Yeah, pretty sure…”
“And there’s definitely just the one in there?”
“Yes, definitely just one…”

Seriously, when has it ever been acceptable to tell a woman they’re huge?

And don’t get me started on the people who say “wow, you’ve grown!” – er, I am growing a baby you know, that’s kind of what’s meant to happen?

Whilst I’ve come to the conclusion that most people just don’t know how to speak to someone who’s pregnant, my sympathies start to crack when it comes to those who’ve clearly been through it themselves – the latest being a lady pushing a newborn baby around Asda exclaiming to me “blimey, I thought I was big when I was pregnant!”.

Er, thanks for that love.

You would think by the time you reached the ‘one week to go’ milestone people would ease up on the “really? You look ready to burst” retorts, but it seems only now that I’m overdue do you start to get a bit of actual sympathy.

Of course, now I just have to learn to cope with the new, inevitable, conversations:

“Yikes, I’m impressed you’re out and about!”
What, I’m supposed to shut myself away in the house until baby decides to rock up?

“Well don’t go into labour here!”
Like if it was in my control I’d choose to drop in the middle of a supermarket! Though then again there’s all those rumours of free groceries for life…

“Should I call an ambulance?”
If I needed one I sure as hell wouldn’t be stood here counting out loose change. And you do know that childbirth is nothing like they show it in the movies, right?!

And the classic, usually delivered by text, or occasionally posted on Facebook walls…

“Any sign of baby yet?”
Yeah, I had her last week but just didn’t bother to tell anyone…

Yep, some things in pregnancy are inevitable. And at this stage, now officially ‘overdue’, the one inevitable thing I’m holding on to is that this baby will be coming out, sometime soon, one way or another.

And no amount of wondering, worrying or text messages will have any impact on when that is!

Due Date

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Hello! Hello!

I’ll say it straight up – I don’t have a great history of blogging. It’s not that I haven’t tried, I just have a habit of leaving things half done. It’s like I only got half of the multitasking gene – I get started on many things that never quite come to fruition.

But today is the start of something new. Possibly.

Today is the due date for our second baby, and the cause of my first ‘proper’ maternity leave (my husband was a stay at home Dad for our first daughter, G, whilst I went back to my job in advertising).

Now, given I went 9 days overdue with G, and have had barely even a twinge of Baby arriving any time soon, ‘due date’ doesn’t exactly mean much. In fact apparently only about 4% of babies arrive on their due date, so baby’s tardiness should probably be forgiven.

But nonetheless, today is the birth of this blog, where I plan to share my journey into parenthood for the second time, and maternity leave for the first time, along with smatterings of the things I hope I’ll be able to spend at least some of my time indulging in – crafts, cookery and creativity.

Here goes…