Monday, October 14, 2013

Postnatal care in the UK: clarifications on home visits, plus more details.

Before I move onto discussing the home health visitor part of postnatal/postpartum (same language, different word) care in the UK, I wanted to clarify a few thing about the midwife home visits. I've gotten loads of emails from people who had questions and concerns.

1) The midwife brings a scale with her during each visit and weighs the newborn. If the newborn has lost too much weight, they first suggest feeding her more often. If it's a significant amount (I think beyond 10%), they do suggest supplementing with formula.

2) They are pro-breastfeeding, if that is what the mother wants to do. If the home midwife isn't able to solve any nursing problems, she suggests going to one of the many free nursing clinics around the city. In Edinburgh, there are multiple clinics several times a week, where anyone can go to get one-on-one help from a certified lactation consultant. (I used this service once, and it was wonderful. Will save it for another blog.)

3) Yes, they do the hearing tests and vitamin K shots (though you can opt out if you are very insistent).

Terrible, blurry photo of our midwife doing heel-prick test
in our living room. Check out the new-parent messy house!
4) Yes, they offer the "heel-prick test" for various genetic disorders, and our midwife drew blood from the wee boy's heel while David held him on our living room couch (and I hid myself in the bedroom).

5) There are also various "forums" throughout the city. The one in my neighborhood was on Tuesdays from 11:30-2:30 (I think). It was part drop-in doctors' office and part moms' group. Several rooms of a large community center were available to parents of babies 0-6months (there are other days/times set up for older babies) with playmats, changing tables, baby scales for weigh-ins for nervous/obsessed parents, and -- get this -- several health visitors (essentially nurse practitioners) or midwives available to answer any nagging questions.

It was an easy and wonderful way to pop in, make sure your baby is gaining weight, and ask a question that wasn't exactly an emergency, but was a concern. You know ... the ones where you aren't sure if it warrants a visit to the doctor, but you'd like to get it checked out.What is this rash? Is this the right color poo? Why are his eyes crossed? Listen to this noise he's making. None of us is sleeping ... what can we do? It's actually at the forum where a health visitor first suggested that my "baby blues" was lingering a bit too long.

If I'd been mentally up for it, it would have also been a great way to meet other new mums in the neighborhood, as the forum was always packed. Childbirth made me shy, however, and I usually cowered in a corner while David chatted up the nurses with questions.

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