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.

The things I wish I’d known in my first pregnancy

There are probably thousands of books out there about pregnancy, not to mention the probably millions of blogs and websites dedicated to the topic. So much so, that upon becoming pregnant the first time round, you may be a bit perplexed as to what to read.

Not everybody wants to know all the nitty-gritty details about pregnancy and birth, and that’s just fine. Your health professionals will tell you all you really need to know. But, if you’re the sort of person who likes to know as much as possible as to what you’re in for, then you’re probably going to be looking for a pregnancy book.

When I was pregnant with my first, I bought books about baby care, because I was more worried about that than the pregnancy part. I googled when I had questions about my pregnancy and enjoyed the sites that compare the size of your baby to a fruit or vegetable each week.

But the problem with google searches is they can take you down a black hole of confusion and self-doubt. There are so many websites, and many of them contradict each other. If you are googling because you are worried about some aspect of your pregnancy, this can get kind of stressful. And it also doesn’t help when you come across forums with lots of people spouting completely random opinions. It’s difficult to sort out fake from fact, and it can really lead to you feeling more confused than you did before you started googling.

A book I was recently sent to review, Pregnancy: The Naked Truth by Anya Hayes & Hollie Smith, is the antidote to late-night pregnancy google confusion. It is an amazingly spot-on collection of all the answers to the most common pregnancy questions and worries, aimed specifically at modern British mums. It is much more down-to-earth, less generalising, less judgemental, and less old-fashioned than other pregnancy books I’ve come across.

Some of the topics it covers include:

  • What’s safe to eat/drink/do in pregnancy without any scaremongering or overly cautious advice.
  • Everything to expect in terms of pregnancy symptoms – what’s normal and when you should go to the doctor.
  • What to expect from different stages in pregnancy and antenatal appointments.
  • All about work and maternity leave.
  • Sex and pregnancy.
  • Getting ready for birth and baby, and what to expect on the big day.
  • The first few weeks with your newborn.

The best thing about this book is the light, humorous tone it’s written in. It isn’t embarrassed to tell you exactly how flatulent you are likely to be in pregnancy or how loudly you might swear when you’re in labour. It also incorporates first-hand comments from mums who’ve been through it all.

At no point is the book judgemental. It is always realistic (for example when discussing whether you can have the odd glass of wine in pregnancy), and it respects a mum’s ability to decide for herself, given the most up-to-date facts about the matter.

Having already been through pregnancy twice, there was nothing in this book that surprised me. But I learned all of it from stressy googling and (sometimes bitter) experience. This book will prepare you mentally so that some of those aspects of pregnancy no one ever talks about won’t come as too much of a shock.

If you want to know all the secrets of pregnancy that nobody necessarily talks about, read this book. If you like to be prepared for everything, read this book. This is definitely the book I wish I had read when I was a first-time mum-to-be.

I received the book for free for the purposes of writing an honest review.