I’m sure you know better than me…

There’s a website called My OB said what???

It features real life tales of the insensitive, cruel, inaccurate and sometimes supportive or inspiring things that OBs, midwives, nurses, lactation consultants and sonographers have said to pregnant women/new mothers in all sorts of situations. In one way it was great to come across because I didn’t feel quite so alone in the all the various things that have been said to me over the course of six pregnancies, but it’s also a little depressing too to realise that these sorts of things and this kind of treatment is so common.

I’m beginning to wonder if before graduating the midwives around here have to take a module on “Contradicting the patient regardless of what they are actually saying” (I think they do that in final year, “Patronising the Patient” has to be covered in year one). Don’t get me wrong, I’ve come across some fabulous midwives and doctors in my time but I’ve also come across some awful ones

Like the one who shushed me angrily when I was vocalising during my first labour

Like the doctor that performed a stretch and sweep without my consent, actually without even looking at me or talking to me

Like the midwife who went through my birth plan laughing and shaking her head and muttering “where do they get these ideas?” when I asked to avoid an episiotomy and for delayed cord clapping

Like the midwife who told me that if I went overdue and refused to be induced my baby would die and I would have no idea, it would just be dead (due date is apparently an expiration date)

Like the doctor who told me I was never pregnant it was just my period while I was experiencing a miscarriage a full week after getting getting my first positive pregnancy test

Like the midwife I saw when I have having a lot of strong and quite painful Braxton Hicks contractions at around 24 weeks who told me it couldn’t possibly be Braxton Hicks because they don’t happen before 34 weeks.

And yesterday…..

Well yesterday I had to take the Squishy one to see the Health Visitor for her two year assessment. The health visitors hold their clinic in the same place as the midwives. I was sitting in the waiting room when a midwife asked me who I was there to see. I decided to ask her then about the lack of movement I’ve been feeling. I explained to her that it’s my fourth viable pregnancy, and she told me that it’s nothing to worry about because usually people only feel movement at around 19 to 20 weeks anyway.

Sometimes I honestly feel like it doesn’t matter what I say, they’ll say I’m wrong and I couldn’t possibly be experiencing what I think I am because that just doesn’t happen until the child is at least four years old, and it doesn’t matter what books I’ve read or even what the NHS guidelines are, I am wrong, everyone who I have ever known who has experienced the same thing is wrong too.

I’m sure doctors and nurses and whatever hate google because patients must be constantly diagnosing themselves, but I think a lot of them seem to have a general dislike of anyone with a bit of knowledge, it’s like how dare you read something in a book and have an understanding of it? I’m no expert but I have been studying biology for a very long time, I have taken multiple modules at undergraduate and postgraduate level in biochemistry, clinical chemistry, genetics etc. I’m working on becoming a qualified Biomedical Scientist, in short I ain’t dumb where matters of the body are concerned, and I don’t presume to think that I know better or more than specifically trained professionals but sometimes I feel like their default position is that no lay person can know ANYTHING. It makes interactions very frustrating, because I don’t feel like I can have a dialogue with these people, all they want me to do is shut up and not ask questions and be a good little patient.

I remember having hours and hours of contractions with Squishy when I was 37+4. My cover for home birth didn’t start until 38 weeks. After contracting through the night I called the midwives (because I had no intention of heading to the hospital). I got their answer machine, so I left a message and asked them to call me back. This was at about 9 o’clock, no one called me until 1 o’clock at least (possibly later), by this stage the contractions had died off and had become erratic. I was worried they’d start up again. The midwife I spoke to told me I would have to go to hospital because I was early. I pointed out that the world health organisation considered women full term at 37 weeks and that lots of other health trusts are happy to support home birth from 37 weeks. She told me I’d have to go hospital. I said I’m not going to hospital for the sake of a few days, was there anyway to move forward the delivery of equipment and the rota? I was told I would have to go hospital. I asked for the number for the supervisor of midwives. I was told this particular midwife had already spoken to her. I said that’s fine, may I have her number so that I may speak to her? I was told she had already spoken to her. Third time I repeated the request and at that point I was told to ring the labour ward at the hospital and they should be able to put me through to her. At this stage I had to turn around to her and say “You know I’m not doing this to make your life difficult or your working day more awkward for you.” Sometimes I think they forget that.

Normally I take the “smile, nod, agree and then do whatever the f*ck you were going to do anyway” approach to maternity services (unless you know there’s a proper medical need to do something differently) and that’s fine, most of the time. But when I have a concern it’d be nice to have the tiniest bit of credence given to it, unless I of course missed the memo where they announced all doctors and midwives within the Trust have been furnished with a new psychic ability to actually feel what is going on with you.

I shouldn’t be surprised really. When I’ve been discussing my concerns about the lack of movement with people and they’ve suggested “why don’t you go and see the midwives if you are worried?” I’ve always replied “what’s the point? they’ll just tell me it’s impossible to feel movement at this stage anyway”

And I was right.

So glad I didn’t waste an entire appointment on that.


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