What not to say to a pregnant woman!
After our last post about sleep, we thought we'd have fun with a bit of frivolity to make us all smile. Sun's out, puns are out!
So our fantastic Shepherds & Shakers (who, if you're new to our blog, are a group of mums and dads who are sharing their parenting experiences to help us all feel not so alone) recall the most inappropriate comments made to them by professionals (doctors, midwives, health visitors etc) about their pregnancy, baby or toddler. This, I must say, is not a dig whatsoever at healthcare professionals. It is simply a bit of fun to begin with! But we have a blog post of two halves this time and we end on a much more serious and important note from one of our lovely Shakers.
The Shepherds (Father guards the sheep...)
John: When our first baby was born, we excitedly took her to register her birth. The whole experience could not have been more of a let down, topped off with the surly registrar saying to us as an unmarried couple, "Are you sure about her surname because if you split up you can't change it." (Where's the tumbleweed emoticon when you need it?!).
The Shakers (Mother shakes the dreamland tree...)
Em: When first pregnant and I went to tell my GP the very first thing he asked is if I wanted to keep the baby.
Juliette: Inappropriate remarks, where to start! I think one of my favourites was just after I'd given birth to my first little girl and a nurse came in to the hospital room and said "Ah, a lovely baby girl! Now you just need to have a boy." Wasn't exactly at the forefront of my priorities!
Another was a midwife during a home visit who, when I asked for breastfeeding tips, said "the key is cushions. Pile a lot of cushions around yourself, and then they will support you and it becomes easy". Totally loopy. Needless to say I ignored that and saw someone who knew what they were talking about!
Katharine: When I was heavily pregnant with my first baby I had to have some dental work done. I asked for an anaesthetic in case it was too painful. To which he replied, "You're going to have to man up when it comes to giving birth." Clearly, men around the world have the bravery women don't have in childbirth...
Now this is one every woman in labour can relate to. So, you're in labour, you leave it until it gets pretty intense and you call the hospital. "Have you taken a paracetamol?" Have I what?! I'm in labour, I haven't stubbed my toe.
Our second baby was born with jet black hair (neither of us has dark hair...). When she was about 10 seconds old, the gorgeous midwife cheekily asked, "Katharine, what colour hair does the postman have?"
Marysia: When we found out that we are going to have our first baby, my husband and I were over the moon! So we went for the our first appointment with the GP, very excited and happy, but the first thing he said to us was : “Are you going to keep it? “ Nice bedside manner..
With our second baby, when we went to the one year review, the Health Visitor told me that I should really stop breastfeeding in the night, because he only cries because he knows he is going to get some milk. And then she added: “Just leave him in his cot and say "there, there, mummy’s here.” Wow, so insightful 🤨
Rachel: I think the most inappropriate chat I’ve had from healthcare professionals is the constant 'geriatric pregnancy’ obsession, having a baby just off 40 (practically a pensioner!).
Wendy: An acutely nervous time on a doctor's couch preparing for and discussing the intricacies of an amniocentesis. He shut down any questions with "Coming to me is like buying a pair of shoes. You get what you want.". A heady combination of God complex meets lack of shoe shopping nous.
Now, we have all had a bit of fun recalling these moments, but one of our gorgeous Shakers came back to me with a very different take on this, because her experience was so littered with unwanted and unhelpful comments. So whilst we have a good chuckle at the lighter side, here is Chrisy's response, reminding us very importantly that words and understanding really do matter.
Chrisy: I live in a country where blunt is the norm so coming from the US and UK it always seems to rub me the wrong way when a doctor gives advice or suggestions...it always seems inappropriate. They also seem to be completely unable to empathise or understand mental illness and thus when going to the doctor about real symptoms I’ve often been asked if it were in my head or psychosomatic because I had post natal anxiety after my daughter’s birth and the note stayed in my file. For instance, when I separated my AC (shoulder) and the doctor asked me if it were all in my head. A physiotherapist confirmed the separation later but I had to go to that same doctor three times over four months to get the referral each time being told to take paracetamol and rest because it was most likely in my head. When it came to my daughter being ill it was even worse. I was basically written off by my local surgery and would find myself in the emergency weekend hospital because of the lack of acknowledgement at the surgery during the normal weekday practice hours. Something which could have been addressed and dealt with but because of their lack of care became worse....all due to their inability to understand how mental illness affects different people and stigmatising. I could write a book on all the instances but I won’t. I feel what’s important to take away from this is know yourself and trust yourself. If you feel there is something wrong, keep pushing until you get the care you and your child needs. It shouldn’t have to be this hard...but sometimes it is. Try your best not to let it defeat you.