Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Archive for the ‘Channel 4’ Category

I thought I’d share with you my experiences of children (siblings) being present at birth.

Interestingly on a recent edition of “One born every minute” a teenage boy was with his mother in labour and this is something that I’ve witnessed before, and although it is unusual I feel perfectly comfortable with this.  Some women choose to be supported by their own father in labour and again, this may seem unusual, but the choice of birth partner should be left to the woman.

With regard to children being present, again, I think women instinctively know whether or not they want their children to be present.  At a planned homebirth, sometimes children will be present and I have never seen a child distressed (sometimes despite the noises of birth).  Women will know whether having a child present will inhibit them and stop them labouring effectively and they will also know their own child and whether they feel it will be appropriate.  I have been at many births with children present, and invariably the children are very quiet and seem aware that something special is happening, they are almost reverential and their mother can usually smile and reassure them between contractions that she is fine, but just “working hard to give birth to their new baby”, I also think it is very much part of my role as a midwife to reassure the child(ren) and this is helped by the fact that I have usually spent a lot of time getting to know the whole family.

If you wish your child(ren) to be present I suggest you spend time preparing them for the birth.  Talk about birth being “hard work” – it is “hard to get a baby out” and “sometimes Mummies make funny noises”.  I also compare birth to be like a sportsperson working very hard and making “grunts and groans”.

There are also lots of wonderful books to introduce the idea of a new baby to children including ‘Hello Baby’ – by Julie Vivas and I would encourage you to spend lots of time reading about a new baby, looking at photographs, videos etc and fully involving your older children at every opportunity – I feel certain this will go a long way to preventing sibling rivalry.

Well this is an interesting topic!

Basically, I think we get what we are given … but if you are in the position of having a large family with all the same sex, perhaps you might consider *trying* to alter the odds of conceiving one sex or the other.

There was a programme on TV a week or so ago “8 boys and wanting a girl” (Channel 4 21 January 2010) which evoked mixed feelings for me.  Part of me thought the families ought to be grateful to have lovely children, and part of me felt sorry for them.  You can watch it here if you are quick!

The programme talked about PGD (Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis), similar to IVF but the sex of the fertilised egg is determined and selected to implant into the mother accordingly but this in not available in the UK and some families are travelling to America and spending huge amounts of money to receive this treatment.

There are, however, less drastic measures that *might* alter your chances to have one gender or the other.  There is a book by Hazel Phillips called “Girl or Boy? Your chance to choose” and also “How to have a girl” and “How to have a boy” by J. Martin Young or “How to choose the Sex of You r Baby” by Landrum B. Shettles.

There are various theories about the timing and position of intercourse and the diet of the mother, but … it seems that the theories are contradictory.

I wish you well, but remember that all children are precious whatever gender they are!

We have had two weeks of the eight week Channel 4 documentary series ‘One Born Every Minute’.  The series follows the day-to-day life in a maternity ward and was filmed over the course of a month.  The programme goes out on Tuesday evenings at 9pm.

The programme highlights the intense experience of childbirth from the perspective of both parents-to-be and also midwives and maternity ward staff. 

The programme, for me, is very interesting and also very realistic of the pressures faced by staff and women alike, however it is edited in a very dramatic style featuring women screaming, babies crying and moments of intensity and drama (of course, this is TV!).  I have had clients contact me having been quite upset by the programme.  I just hope they also show some of the lovely normality of birth, the quiet, serene, beautiful births and not just the drama.

Teenage pregnancy is something that I have already written about, see my blog on 1st January

Tonight the subject was re-visited by Channel 4 in the programme The Hospital the programme claimed to explore the cost of teenage mothers to an already stretched health service.

The programme states that 46,000 pregnant teens registered in the UK last year – the highest number in Europe – and questioning whether young people fail to take responsibility for their own health; and asks can the NHS afford to maintain its founding principle of free healthcare at the point of delivery?  The programme was filmed at City Hospital in Birmingham where 10 new pregnant teenage girls register at the maternity unit each week.

Whilst fully acknowledging the difficulties faced by both staff and these young women the programme really raised the question of “informed consent” for me.  Whilst it was true that one of the young women did get her wish to have a general anaesthetic for her caesarean (against medical advice) I was left feeling that these young women were short changed when for example the staff told the young women “we are going to do induce you with a tablet”.  I appreciate that the film may have been edited but it did leave me with the feeling that these women were not active partners in their care.

Of course, for me as an Independent Midwife and having the luxury of additional time it is easy to be critical of an NHS system which is stretched to the limits, but it did strike me as a missed opportunity to involve the young women in the decision making.  I also felt that there were some sweeping statements, for example although many of these women were at increased risks during their pregnancy, I do not believe that age alone is a risk factor.  Many young women will have healthy pregnancies and will progress to have normal births – I believe that late teens/early twenties can be a physically good time to have a baby providing that the couple are emotionally and financially ready.