Neighbourhood Midwives helped me achieve a wonderful experience for the birth of my second child at home, in contrast to the traumatic experience of my first child’s birth with the NHS in hospital. I wish I had hired Neighbourhood Midwives for my first birth.
During my first pregnancy I never saw the same midwife twice antenatally. During my 38 hours in labour in hospital I was cared for by 7 different midwives. I started in the birth centre, but later had to transfer to the labour ward for lack of progress. Once I arrived there, there was a six hour period where I had no assigned midwife and my partner and I were left alone in a room in the care of a fetal monitor with instructions to summon help if the baby’s heart rate dropped and to wait for a midwife to become available. My baby was eventually born with the assistance of ventouse into a room with over 10 medical personnel all of whom were strangers to me. Postnatally I was treated as an inconvenience and some of the midwives were actively horrible to me. My baby was born battered and bruised and developed an infection and severe jaundice as a result. By the time we were discharged 5 days later I had developed several symptoms of a mental health illness. I needed months of counselling to undo the harm of the mental trauma from my experience with the NHS.
As soon as I became pregnant again I began to worry about both the birth and the post-natal period in the hospital and wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t be left alone during labour this time. Rene from Neighbourhood Midwives was recommended to me by a friend. Rene listened to my story and empathised with my feelings and so my healing began. Initially I had been focused on the support I would need during labour but as Rene came to my house for my antenatal appointments I began to realise that the support during the antenatal period was just as important.
Rene paid equal attention to my physical and mental health during the pregnancy. She listened to me with her full attention and took all of my concerns seriously and I never felt rushed when she came for appointments. In between appointments I liked being able to text her with my questions instead of needing to wait until the next appointment. In preparation for the birth Rene put in place a care plan with the hospital to support me if I needed to be on the post natal ward because I had found it so traumatic last time. She also referred me to the mental health team as a precaution and came with me to the appointment to advocate for me.
By the time I went into labour I felt calm and confident about the birth. From the first sign of labour I was in touch with Rene by text and phone and when I felt I needed her to come she came immediately. With her support I gave birth to my daughter in a birth pool in my lounge. Rene’s quiet confidence during the labour was reassuring. Whenever I looked at her for support or needed something she was right by me but when I didn’t need her she (and her partner Rachel) melted into the background and gave me space to labour with the support of my partner. I felt very calm throughout labour and afterwards. Rene and Rachel did what needed to be done without any extra fuss or noise. It was lovely that they already knew us and what we wanted so I didn’t need to explain anything or answer any questions and could just experience my beautiful home birth without interruption.
Rene visited me every day after the birth initially and then less frequently as we needed less support. She kept a close eye on my mental health and thankfully this time I had no mental health problems. I wish I had sought out a private midwife for my first birth!
Thank you Rene!