Monday, 8 December 2014

Should we be worried about the NHS?

Depending on which part of the world you're reading this, some of you may have heard about the tragic story of Charlotte Bevan, the Bristol mum who went missing with her 5 day old daughter from hospital.

Charlotte Bevan, 30 was caught on CCTV leaving St Michael's Hospital in Bristol on Tuesday 2nd December, with her newborn daughter without being stopped. Her daughter was only 4 days old and was wrapped in just a blanket. Unfortunately Charlotte and her daughter were found dead.
The question that is being asked at the moment by many people is 'Why was Charlotte Bevan not stopped?' Surely she must have passed a nurses station or someone saw her carrying a newborn in just a blanket might have thought it was odd and alerted someone. The hospital where I gave birth was impossible to leave the maternity unit without a midwife opening the doors. There will no doubt be an investigation in order to ask/answer those questions so that this doesn't happen again. No doubt the Bristol hospital is getting it in the neck by the NHS bosses and i'm guessing the local social services will have an investigation. Nobody truly knows what was going on in Charlottes life or how she was feeling about becoming a new mum. 

When I heard the story about Charlotte it got me thinking about my own experience with the hospital I gave birth at, and then I found this post Charlotte Bevan Highlights NHS Failings written by blogger London Mum and it suddenly clicked that yes the NHS are failing new mothers. The birth of my little boy was proof of that, not the actual birth but i'd say the lead up and then straight after the birth. I have documented my birth story in a blog post but ill just concentrate on the complication after I had given birth. So Joey was born at 9.25pm on 19th June 2014 after 5 hours of labour, he was placed on my chest and cried as soon as he was born and he was all fine. For some reason in all the chaos my husband wasn't allowed to cut the baby's cord. After I was cleaned up myself, hubby and the baby were left for hours while the midwives did paperwork. A midwife did pop her head round the door to tell me I could have a shower, this was probably about 11/12pm. I got a shower, which was a bit difficult, i then started to pack my stuff away for them to move me onto the ward. We were waiting for ages and when hubby popped out to ask when I was getting moved they just kept saying "it will be soon". I couldn't lie or even sit on the bed in the delivery room as they had taken the bedding off, hubby was cuddling baby in the one chair in the room. I managed to sit myself on the very edge of the bed, and then the next thing I know I wake up lying on the bed feeling very woozy. I'd basically fainted and had a fit because of the exhaustion and hubby ran out to get a nurse. They came running in asking me what was wrong, they got me on heart monitors you name it and it was just down to exhaustion and hunger. I asked them for some toast after I gave birth but that didn't turn up, I'd run out of snacks and all the shops in hospital were shut.

Finally at 3am we were moved onto the ward, before I got moved Joey had breast fed for ages so he was finally asleep resting his noisy lungs. I was put on a ward with 3 other mums and babies so hubby had to go and i literally begged them for him to stay but rules were rules. I had about an hours sleep that whole night. All I wanted to do was for me and baby to go home, I knew that I would feel better and more relaxed. But we only got discharged that day at 5pm. They were very reluctant to discharge me as breastfeeding wasn't fully established, I had the breast feeding nurses coming in to see me and I knew that everything would be fine once we got home. I just felt completely alone with my baby, and I feel everything would have been better if I had my husband their for support. I cried quite a few times during my stay in hospital, which I know is expected but even a week after the birth I still had a bit of the baby blues. Part of me getting so upset was the breastfeeding, it was so stressful, especially in the early hours of the morning. 

I've read a lot of blogs recently and there seems to be a pattern emerging with mums being pressured to breastfeed. London Mum suggests that the NHS is putting too much effort and money into encouraging breastfeeding both before and after the baby is born instead of focusing more on the basic post-natal care. I completely agree, from my first booking appointment with a midwife this time last year when I was only about 8 weeks pregnant I had been booked onto a breast feeding class in 5 months time. At that stage in my pregnancy I didn't know which route I was going to take. I even felt slightly pressured by people I knew. Don't get me wrong, the NHS is a great institute and we would be stuck without it, but surely the case of Charlotte Bevan just shows that the immediate post-natal care is just not good enough. It needs major improvements and less of the breast is best army within the NHS (I'm not bashing Breast feeding..I've tried it). I did subsequently breast feed Joey exclusively until he was about 10 weeks old, I then moved on to combination feeds and then moved onto just formula feeding by about 12 weeks.  We tried it and it was ok very early on but we just found that formula was the best option.

With my own experience after birth I definitely had a case of the baby blues, I seemed to cry all the time at nothing. I had no problem bonding with Joey, that aspect was fine and I knew that I loved him straight away. But I must admit I didn't tell my health visitor or doctor that I was struggling a bit in those early days, I just got on with being a mum. I'm first to admit that I'm the sort of person that likes to keep up pretences and i won't seek help immediately which is the wrong thing to do. 

Again, I am not saying that the NHS is irrelevant but more emphasis on the post natal care side of things needs to be assessed. Maybe and this is a BIG maybe, if nhs strategies were different Charlotte may have felt more supported or know that there was more support out their and may not have felt the need to do what she did. My heart goes out to Charlottes family and her partner. Ofcourse, it has been well documented that the NHS is strained and that midwives in particular are in short supply and aren't getting paid enough either. I just hope that the NHS can just improve things so that new mums and health care professionals can work happily together and provide more support. 

I'd really like to hear your views on this. 

Thanks for reading 

Lolly x 

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