Monday, April 09, 2007

Books and babies

I finished The Fruit of the Tree yesterday and I absolutely loved it. In a week when plans for maternity services have been in the news, it was fascinating to have a glimpse into how things were in the late 1960's, when women stayed in maternity homes or hospital for days after having a baby, rather than be booted out after a few hours.

I had both my babies in hospital and for medical reasons stayed in several days with both of them. Whilst the experience was far from perfect, I'm not sure I would have wanted a home birth. A friend of mine had her fourth child at home a few years ago and said all she could think about throughout her labour was that because the walls were so thin, her neighbours must be able to hear it all. So much for concentrating on a stress free birth!

As it happens both my children were born early and popped out easily without medical intervention or pain relief. But I was glad that we were in a hospital when son 1 had to be rushed to intensive care straight after birth. I can't imagine how it must feel to be at home if something goes wrong and sadly it can, even in full term babies.

Whilst I think it is wonderful that home birth might be offered to all those who want it, the NHS should also be looking very carefully at greatly improving staff levels and facilities in hospitals for those who want or need to give birth there. Even thirteen years ago, when I had son 2, there was a shortage of midwives. Experienced Mums were helping out the first-timers and on my ward a patient, who happened to be a nurse as well as a new Mum, helped the staff by taking round the drinks trolley!

I also read my Mslexia magazine yesterday and now am moving on to What Was Lost. I can't wait!


Jackie Luben said...

Thank you so much, Cathy. I'm very glad you enjoyed The Fruit of the Tree.

The wonderful maternity unit in which I had my babies (maximum of 13 mums at a time) was closed down many years later. It was staffed entirely by midwives with doctors only calling in to check the babies over after birth. Now I understand some bright spark has thought of bringing these units back. Alas, so much has been lost in the interim period in terms of midwives' skills.

Anonymous said...

The whole hospital experience can make or break your decision. Having had all three of mine in hospital I wouldn't have had it any other way.

The first time the hospital was busy and I had to be rushed out of the bath as there was a 'share all' bathroom and didn't feel the staff were quite as friendly as they could be.

The second time I was on my own in the ward after the birth with the total attention of a trainee midwife - it was calming and very relaxing.

The third time I was so scared about something going wrong (being older) I practically begged to go into hospital for the reassurance, big baby that I am.

The last two times though the maternity wards had been revamped and were much nicer and being quieter was a totally different experience.

Sue x

Catherine said...

When I attended NCT classes 25 years ago prior to the birth of my first baby, there seemed to be a feeling that women could make a diffence to the birth experience, that things were improving. Reading reports in the newspapers now, it seems that the situation is worse than ever and the quality of the experience is generally negative.

I had two hospital births and one (the middle one) at home in North London, with a back up registration at the Whittington should there be problems. The home birth was far and away the best and most positive experience, though I was a little put out when the midwife admitted that the gas and air had run out, but she reassured me I was doing fine with the breathing .... Just as well, really.

Cathy said...

Isn't it interesting how we have all had different experiences? My own was neither brilliant nor disastrous, though more recently the hospital where the boys were born has been in the news for terrible failings in its maternity care.