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.