At the end of my last post Bad Maternity Experiences and the Journey to Changing Hospitals (Part One) I mentioned that we were looking into changing hospitals due to the experiences at the one closest to our house. Both hospitals are NHS, so it wasn’t like we were switching from NHS to private.
My main worry about changing was about travelling. The hospital is a good forty minute drive away, and I worried about making it in labour. Buuuuttttt we decided to start making enquiries, as my experiences at the current hospital were really starting to get me down and making me dread appointments, which is just no good really.
I’m very much a believer that pregnancy should be a positive thing. It’s filled with anxieties and obstacles to overcome for each person or couple, but essentially for most it is a happy thing. The midwives at my current hospital were doing a great job of ruining what should be a happy time with their snarky comments and their uninclusive department.
The hospital I wanted to move to is the one I work at. They have a great reputation for most things and are actually where I would prefer to go for any kind of treatment. We had looked at pursuing fertility treatment here and would have done had we needed to. So, I sent an email to the head of midwifery about whether it would be possible to change care. At this point I was basically 20 weeks pregnant and wasn’t sure whether it was “too late” to be transferred. I did expect that the email would be passed on to someone more “appropriate” as I imagined that the head of midwifery has more to worry about than my enquiry.
To my surprise, when I came into work the following day, I had an email.
Apologies for the late response – I’ve been out of the office all day so have only just got to your emails.
We would love to provide your care.
Have you completed the referral form? If so then you should hear very soon.
In the meantime I’d be very happy to meet and have a chat. I’m around tomorrow between 2 and 4 pm or friday before 9 or 2.30 -3.
By this point, I had already bitten the bullet and filled in the self referral form on the Trust’s website, so I advised her that I had indeed and was waiting for a response. We arranged to meet that day for a chat and a look around the maternity floor and I roped Amy along as well.
Just going into the unit was different. There were no ridiculous “dads are important because…” posters. Everything talked about “partners” and “support systems” rather than “mum and dad”. The department was lovely and bright and very secure, each person having to get through TWO intercom buzzers to get into the birthing suite. Before long the head of midwifery arrived and we went to her office for a chat. She took an interest in Amy and I how the pregnancy was going so far and how Eden had come to be. She told us a lot about the department, how they run and what we could expect from them.
We asked her about the issues with travelling,a nd she said we can always travel in early as they wouldn’t send us home if we had come from a while away. The most they would do is send us for a walk around the area – and it being Central London there wouldn’t be a shortage of places to wander to.
After a chat, we headed to have a look around the maternity floor. The trust has two birth centres. There’s no “labour ward” as such, but one birth centre is obstetrics lead and the other is midwife led. The only difference I could see was that the obstetrician led side had more medical equipment in the rooms. Both centres were very clean, bright and cosy. There was an air of calm around the place that we hadn’t experienced at the other hospitals. Everyone seemed friendly and nothing was too much trouble. Maybe that’s because we were with the head of midwifery at the time, but still. All of the literature that we saw was incredibly inclusive and supportive of women and their families. They told us that they also have a lesbian couple working in the unit who have each chosen to have their baby there, which is a massively positive thing for me. They also have two pool rooms, which is great as that was something I was hoping would be a possibility for us when Eden comes into the world.
I was impressed to see that there was a garden room, with sweeping views over London. It was like an oasis of calm and the HOM said that it is somewhere that they encourage couples to go when in early labour, so that they have a quiet place to support one another in the early stages of established labour. It was a lovely room and I would imagine would be very helpful when in the beginnings of labour.
We then went back to the head of midwifery’s office. She asked about why we had been referred to a consultant and I explained about my BMI being 33. She was surprised by this, and said I carry it well. She also said that BMI is not generally a very good assessment of how healthy someone is or what their birth will be like as there’s so many variables. She told us that the hospital very much encourages women to be active in labour as much as possible and will always try and accommodate wishes of parents-to-be where they can. They even offer mobile epidurals, which I thought was fantastic as I like the idea of an epidural, but I hate the idea of not being able to move.
Anyway, so that concluded our show around of the unit. We were both very impressed and knew that we were definitely making the right decision by transferring here. I already felt more positive about the care that Eden and I will receive and that no one had even questioned Amy’s status as the baby’s parent. We then awaited the booking in appointment.
That appointment soon rolled around and we headed up to maternity again. This time to a slightly different floor (they have three) and we booked in. I provided the obligatory urine sample (clear), filled in the bits of paper that I had been given and had my blood pressure taken. It was a little higher than normal, but I think that could well be put down to nerves and anxiety. Even though I had a feeling that this place would be better, I was still feeling very anxious indeed. We were soon called in.
What a breath of fresh air.
We could not have had a more different experience here than the one we had had before. No bullcrap “dads are important because…” posters. No talk of average families. All inclusive language. Even the forms were much more inclusive, citing “maternal” and “paternal” under the medical history and everywhere else “parent one” and “parent two”.
They didn’t make a big deal out of my weight. I have put on about 8lbs since becoming pregnant, which they weren’t concerned about. They went by my booking in BMI from when I booked in at 7 weeks. I’ve still been referred to the consultant because BMI over 30 but that’s fine – the guidelines say that has to happen so I really don’t mind. They also told me the name of the consultant in advance, so it’s nice to know who I will be seeing. They were very open about why, and spoke to me realistically about increased risks of things like hypertension, gestational diabetes and DVT, but they also pointed out that if I carried on as I have and make healthy choices it shouldn’t be too much of an issue. She also said some women are genetically predisposed to these things and not to beat myself up if I am diagnosed with any of them as its nothing I’ve done wrong. A bit different to the last place who basically said “you WILL get GD and hypertension”. They also gave me a whole sheet explaining the symptoms of DVT and went through it with me, what symptoms to look for and when to call for help. They also did a general symptom check of whom to call if certain things happen and reassured that it’s always better to be safe than sorry and we should never feel like we are bothering people by seeking advice.
They asked about the donor, but they actually listened to my answers, rather than just writing “unsure” for everything like the last midwife did. They were interested in how Eden came to be and there was actually an option on their forms for “private sperm donor” and “donor insemination” which was nice. There was no judgement at all – just interest which was nice. They took an interest in Amy and actually took some of her medical history too, saying it was important to know if ANYONE in the house uses non prescription drugs or suffers with depression and such. At the last place they only cared about the biology.
Anyhow, yeah, 100% more positive experience. I didn’t come out feeling like crap. I didn’t feel judged or that we didn’t belong there. Just felt like a normal family who are expecting a baby. We also have a named midwife who we will see throughout, rather than being passed from pillar to post, which is great.
So, there we go. It’s amazing that two hospitals that are less than ten miles apart can be so completely different. The ethos at the new hospital is totally opposite to the old one. Even down to the information on their respective websites – one has so much more than the other.
It’s little things like treating patients with dignity and respect which make a hospital a good one. The first hospital didn’t seem to think they needed to be inclusive, whereas our current one seems to understand exactly why inclusivity is so important. At the new hospital it’s not about telling patients that they are wrong all the time. It’s much more about support, assistance and promotion of good, healthy routines. I think the crux of it, for me, is that the new hospital seems to have a bit more recognition of the fact that everyone who walks through the door is different. Everyone has their own stories and their own needs and wants and it’s important to treat everyone as the individual that they are.