Don’t feel rushed through your antenatal appointments

I had lots of lovely midwives who looked after me during my pregnancies and the births of my two boys. But I also remember the bad one. She spoke so fast and in an accent that I had difficulty understanding. She acted annoyed when I asked her questions or to repeat herself, and I never felt like she was listening to me.

Every time I saw this midwife, I would leave the surgery in tears. She made me feel so unsupported and so insecure. If I had any worries about my pregnancy, I felt even more worried about them after meeting with her. It made me more timid about asking questions when I saw midwives, because I’d been made to feel that I needed to hurry through the appointment.

Having a problem with your midwife, or simply hearing all the time about how busy the NHS is and how strained midwifery services are, or even just a natural desire not to “make a fuss”, can lead to us not speaking up about our pregnancy worries.

A poll on the Babycentre website showed that more than 60% of women worried about wasting time when thinking about raising a concern, and almost 30% of women didn’t speak up because of it. This could lead to missing a chance to get medical help for a complication in pregnancy.

If things go wrong in your pregnancy, it is never your fault. But, you have a right to speak up and ask questions if you’re worried about anything, and trusting your instincts could lead to a problem being spotted before it gets worse. If you encounter a crap midwife who won’t help you, ask for a second opinion. And don’t let worrying about time-wasting or being a nuisance ever stop you from speaking up.

Tommy’s, King’s College London and Babycentre have launched the ‘Always Ask’ campaign to empower pregnant women to overcome fears about speaking to professionals about health concerns. These short videos aim to empower women to speak up and help them voice their concerns effectively.

The campaign is underpinned by a research-based project led by Dr Nicola Mackintosh at King’s College London. ‘The Re-Assure project’ aimed to enable women to share their safety concerns about life threatening illness in order to facilitate a maternity response. The project brought together women, health professionals, a writer and a digital artist to create an animation that follows a pregnant woman through her pregnancy journey.

The campaign also offers tips for speaking up in pregnancy, which have been gathered from women who took part in the project:

  • Don’t play it down – take your concerns seriously and others will too
  • Be specific – say what has changed, even if you don’t think it’s related to your pregnancy
  • Begin by saying, “I am concerned …”
  • Ask the healthcare professionals for their name
  • Make a list of all your concerns
  • Write down what you’re told
  • It’s ok to say you are feeling vulnerable and frightened
  • Before you leave that appointment – consider whether you have asked all your questions and are satisfied with the answers
  • If you can’t make yourself heard or you don’t agree or you feel uncomfortable, say “Let me think about that and get back to you”
  • If you are not happy with the response ask for a second opinion.

A good midwife would rather reassure you 100 times than miss a problem ONCE. If you are unsure, always ask.

This post is based on a press release received from Tommy’s. I did not receive any incentive to publish this information.

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13 thoughts on “Don’t feel rushed through your antenatal appointments

  1. I always made a list before I went to my appointments, made it so much easier to remember everything. Even if it was something small and random. You don’t know what could be related to pregnancy, my rule of thumb was whatever I notice with my body during pregnancy is likely to be related to it. That way I was never dismissive of anything.

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  2. This is such an important post, women should never feel worried about asking questions and addressing concerns that are affecting their health and the health of the baby. Thank you for sharing, I hope more women feel empowered because of it! #EatSleepBlogRT

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  3. I completely agree with everything you have said.
    I have just had baby six and have met a Mixture of midwives. Some (most) have been absolutely wonderful, supportive, sympathetic and attentive. However I have come across some really dismissive and patronising ones to. As this was baby six I am confident enough in myself to speak up, but so many times I have thought
    ‘ imagine if this was my first baby, that meeting /comment would leave me confused, worried and scared! ‘
    I also read those worrying statistics about the amount of pregnant women who don’t go to see their midwives dispite worrying about something. So very sad.
    I can see Doulas doing well in this country.

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  4. What better time to start teaching the little inside, the value of a strong woman with a voice. #Ask There are no bad questions, only some not so nice people. Take your space and use that voice! #EatSleepBlogRT xoxo

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  5. #eatsleepblogRT My midwife saved my little girl. So, when i became pregnant again, despite moving out of area – I tracked her down and my GP spoke to her. I was so pleased that she saw my healthy son be born. She was more than a midwife – she was an absolute angel to me in our darkest times.

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  6. This is so important . I had so many amazing midwives but the one who made me feel like a nuisance who rushed me out the room telling me her Blood Pressure monitor must be broken as it couldn’t have been that high ( cue preeclampsia and an emergency induction the next day) I still worry of what could have been and am cross with myself for allowing myself to be dismissed so easily. We should always feel able to speak up at such a vulnerable time #EatSleepBlogRT

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  7. I think this is so important. I remember one appointment I had while I was pregnant that was particularly awful – it was with a consultant to discuss whether I needed a C-Section. The clinic was running dreadfully late (about 2 hours!). I was eventually ushered into a room and told that the doctor would be with me shortly. When he arrived, he didn’t even sit down. He did the quickest skim-read of my file and said that c-section wasn’t neccessary and walked out of the room. End of appointment! I burst into tears. Hubby and I decided today wasn’t the best day to push for more but that we’d try and arrange for another appointment / consultant. However, baby had other ideas and arrived naturally a couple of days later. But it was a horrible experience. When you’re pregnant, it’s a very worrying time – you NEED reassurance and you need to know that you are being properly cared for. You need to know that it’s okay to ask questions and that you are not wasting time. A great post and I really hopw that this campaign empowers parents to voice the questions they have #blogcrush

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    1. I’m sorry you had that experience. I think it happens to so many people and while the onus should be on the NHS to listen, it’s good to remind people not to be scared to speak up, and to know they have a right to. Thanks for the lovely comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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