Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Archive for the ‘children’ Category

It is an awful thought that we might not be around to care for our children, but it is something parents should consider and make provision for.

Clive Morgan from The Will Partnership has kindly written some thoughts for this Guest Blog.  Clive can be contacted at clive.morgan@willpartnership.co.uk

Guardians for Minor Children

One of the most important reasons for making a Will is to appoint guardians for minor children. If a child is orphaned (or the death of the parent with parental responsibility occurs) the courts – as advised by Court Welfare Officers and Social Services – will determine who will raise that child. The parent’s only method of avoiding this is to appoint guardians of their choice within a Will. If clients have minor children, they should be advised to choose guardians within their Will(s) – someone to raise them in the highly unlikely event they can’t. It’s not an easy thing to consider but clients can make some simple arrangements now that will allay some of their fears, knowing that in the extremely unlikely event they can’t raise their children, they will be well cared for.

Who Makes a Suitable Guardian?

– Is the prospective guardian/s old enough? (He or she must be an adult – 18 years old)

– Do they have a genuine concern for the children’s welfare?

– Is the client’s choice physically able to handle the role?

– Does he or she have the time?

– Do they have children of an age close to that of the client’s children and do they enjoy a good relationship?

– Can the client financially provide to raise their children via their Will?  If not can the prospective guardian afford to raise them?

– Is their home large enough to accommodate an increase in family size (if not clients may retain their own home for a period of time to house guardians plus children or provide funds for the guardians to increase the size of their home or move, particularly where the clients are certain their choice of guardian is right even through the accommodation is not)?

– Does the guardian share the client’s moral beliefs?

– Are the potential guardian(s) known, liked and trusted by both parents and the children?

– Are they living local to clients so that children could stay at the same school, with the same friends and have as little upheaval as possible during what will probably be the most disturbing time of their lives?

– Have a similar age and circumstances to the client?

– Guardians are usually a relative.

– Would all the children be able to stay together?

As any minor’s daily welfare will be the responsibility of the guardians, it could be worth considering the inclusion of one of the guardians as an executor.

A good question to ask the client could be: ‘If you had an urgent problem tomorrow, who would be the first person you would call to collect your children from school or to be here at home with them until your return and why?’

Clients should name at least one primary guardian (or if the main choice is married/co-habiting then both persons should be chosen) who would act in the event of the death(s) of all persons/parents who had parental responsibility. In addition it is advisable for clients to choose substitute guardians who would act in the event that the primary guardians could not or will not act.

Legally, clients can name co-guardians, who live at different addresses but it’s not a good idea because of the possibility that the co-guardians will disagree how the children will be raised. Where this possibility arises it might be best to appoint one as primary and the other as the secondary guardian which then clarifies the position.

If parents can’t agree

Both parents should name the same person as guardian in both of their Wills. If clients don’t agree on whom to name, a court fight could ensue if both parents die while the child is a minor. Faced with conflicting wishes, a judge would have to make a choice based on the evidence of what’s in the best interests of the child.

A personal view of the writer is that almost any guardian named in a Will is a far better situation than leaving it to the courts – as advised by social services – to decide. If parents can never agree anything else between them guardians is one area where it is vital they should.

Sometimes initially each parent wants each of their own parents as guardians for often different reasons. But once you have a conversation with them about who they think the children would want to live with and who they stay with most often, the ideal solution is often one set of grandparents become the primary guardians and the other the secondary substitute guardians. We inform the guardians of their role in order for them to accept, but we do not inform them of which level of guardian they are. The client may also opt not to inform them so there can be no family arguments over a situation which hopefully will never occur.

At the first meeting when the subject of guardians comes up and agreement does not appear straight forward suggest the clients talk with the people they’d each like to name. Candid discussions with their potential guardians may bring new information to light and help them reach an agreement in time to take their instructions at meeting 2.

Choosing different guardians for different children

Most clients want their children to stay together; if they do, name the same guardian for all the children. You can, however name different guardians for different children. Parents may do this, for example, if their children are not close in age and have strong attachments to different adults outside of the immediate family. For instance, one child may spend a lot of time with a grandparent while another child may be close to an aunt and uncle. In a second or third marriage, a child from an earlier marriage may be close to a different adult than a child from the current marriage. In every situation, you want to help the clients choose the right guardian they believe would be best able to care for each child.

Choosing a different person to watch the money

Some parents name one person to be the children’s guardian and a different person to look after financial matters. Often this is because the person would be the best surrogate parent would not be the best person to handle the money. For example, a client might feel that their bother-in-law would provide the most stable, loving home for the children, but not have much faith in his abilities as a financial manager. Perhaps clients have a close friend who cares about their children and would be better at dealing with the economic aspects of bringing them up. Clients can name one as guardian, the other as executor and trustee to manage their children’s inheritance and advance money to the guardian to maintain the children or it is possible and often prudent to appoint one of the primary guardians as an executor/trustee in addition, provided there are other executors and trustees appointed who are not guardians thus maintaining some balance with no one person (or couple) controlling all the money together with the raising of the children.

Making your wishes known

Most people have strong feelings about how they want their children to be raised. Clients concerns may cover anything from religious teachings to what college they’d like a particular child to attend. One option is to write a letter to the guardian, outlining thoughts and feelings about how the children should be raised where it is ‘wished’.  Whereas if it is to be a firm direction and condition/requirement of the guardian, then it needs to be mentioned within the Will. It is always best to be brief – without too much detail – as it could cause the guardian guilt and frustration, if unexpected circumstances thwart their attempts to carry out the wishes or directions of the client to the letter. The best guarantee of an upbringing a client would approve of is to simply choose someone who knows them and their children well, and whom they trust to navigate life’s complexities on their children’s behalf in the same manner as the clients would if they were alive to do so.

If clients don’t want the other parent to raise their child

If one of a child’s parents dies, the other parent usually takes responsibility for raising the child provided the surviving parent has parental responsibility. This, of course, is what most people want. If clients are separated or divorced, however, they may feel strongly that the child’s other parent shouldn’t have custody if something should happen to them. But a judge will grant custody to someone else only if the surviving parent:

  • Has legally abandoned the child by not providing for or visiting the child for an extended period, or
  • Is clearly unfit as a parent.

In most cases, it is difficult to prove that a parent is unfit, absent or has serious problems such as chronic drug or alcohol abuse, mental illness, or a history of child abuse. If clients honestly believe the other parent is incapable of caring for their children properly, or simply won’t assume the responsibility, you should advise the clients to have an Exclusion Form drafted. In the event of a court case this would give the judge something to take into account particularly because this is the only realistic way the parent who has died can make the court formally aware of the problems and their wishes. Judges are always required to act in the child’s best interest. In choosing a guardian, a judge commonly considers a number of factors in accordance with the welfare checklist, some of the the main ones are:

– The child’s preference, to the extent it can be ascertained

– Who will provide the greatest stability and continuity of care?

– Who will best meet the child’s needs?

– The relationship between the child and the adults being considered for guardian

– The moral fitness and conduct of the proposed guardians.

Some Important Points Regarding the Children’s Act, Parents, Children and Parental Responsibility

In English law Parental responsibility is a legal phrase used to define who has the rights and obligations in making decisions which affect the child’s life. Parental responsibility includes the following legal rights and responsibilities:

  • Providing a home for the child
  • Having contact with and living with the child
  • Protecting and maintaining the child
  • Disciplining the child
  • Choosing and providing for the child’s education
  • Choosing the child’s religion
  • Agreeing on the child’s health and medical care
  • Consenting to medical treatment for the child
  • The right to choose guardians for your children in the event of your death
  • Accessing the child’s medical and educational records
  • Naming the child
  • Responsibility for the child’s property
  • Allowing confidential information about the child to be disclosed

Who has parental responsibility?

– Mothers automatically have parental responsibility.

– If the parents are married at the time of the child’s birth then the father has automatic parental responsibility. If the parents subsquently marry, the father automatically aquires parental responsibility upon marriage if they have not done so by any other method.

For unmarried fathers the rules are more complicated. Being the biological father of a child does not mean that they have an automatic right in law to parental responsibility. Likewise, even though they may be registered as the father on their child’s birth certificate, this does not always mean that they have automatic parental responsibility. If the father is unmarried and separate from the child’s mother and does not have parental responsibility, then they do not have a legal say in the child’s upbringing.

Fathers do have parental responsibility if:

  • They are the father of a child born after 1st December 2003 and their name is on the birth certificate.

They do not have parental responsibility if:

  • They are the father of a child born before 1st December 2003 and are not married to the child’s mother.
  • They are the unmarried father of a child born after 1st December 2003 and they are not named on the child’s birth certificate.

Applying for parental responsibility

There are a number of ways of getting parental responsibility and these are:

  • Entering into a voluntary parental responsibility agreement with the mother
  • Marrying the mother
  • Applying to the court to obtain a parental responsibility order
  • Obtaining a residence order
  • Being appointed as the child’s guardian

To apply to the court for a parental responsibility order, a father needs to show a number of things:

  • The application is being made in the interests of the child’s welfare
  • A degree of commitment to the child exists
  • A degree of attachment between the child and father exists
  • The father’s reason for applying for the order is genuine and well-meaning

If parental responsibility is granted then it has to be exercised jointly with the mother of the child and therefore any decision regarding the appointment of guardians must be a joint one. 

– The right to appoint guardians rests solely with the parent or parents who have parental responsibility and therefore unless the father has parental responsibility he has to be appointed guardian in the mother’s Will in order to raise his own children or apply to the court upon the death of the mother.

-Step parents acquire some rights for stepchildren upon marriage but the right to determine guardians is not one of them. If a step parent wishes to raise stepchildren in the event of the death of their partner they would have to be appointed as a guardian within the Will of the deceased person who has parental responsibility.

– Guardians raising a minor child acquire the right to appoint guardians in the event of their deaths.

– Guardians commence acting upon the death of the second parent or first parent if the mother has sole parental responsibility.

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This is a guest blog, written by Donna Jones – www.dj-counselling.co.uk
Being a parent can be one of the most rewarding things we can do in our lives but it can also be one of the most frustrating and stressful times too. It can feel like there is constant pressure on us with no time to ourselves.

I see many clients who are suffering with parental stress and are struggling to find ways to deal with it. Our children know just the right button to press to get our stress levels soaring!

Some common symptoms of stress can be:

  • Feeling Irritable
  • Tiredness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Headaches

Some things that have helped some of my clients are:-

  • Try to step back from the situation, take a deep breath and go and make yourself a cup of tea to give yourself some space for a couple of minutes.

 

  • Have a distraction box, this can be great for any ages, fill it with toys, crayons, colouring books, craft stuff or whatever is relevant for their age. It does not have to cost a lot as you can pick up cheap items from many supermarkets. Ask your children to pick something from the box to act as a distraction to keep them busy for five minutes while you have some time to yourself.

 

  • Your thoughts and how you perceive events around you can change your mood and stress levels. You can’t always change the world around you but you can change your reaction to it.

 

  • Try to plan things to look forward to you are important too and need some ‘me’ time to help you to de-stress

 

  • Know your limits, if your expectations of yourself are always sky high you will inevitably spend a great deal of time being disappointed and frustrated. Instead, be realistic in what you can achieve.

 

  • Get Support seeking support from other people can be the key to getting through stressful situations. Ironically, your reaction when under stress can often be to withdraw from those who might offer the most support. Even worse, stressful times can put a strain on the relationships you most depend on.

 

  • Talk to family and friends about how you are feeling. Talking openly about how you feel can be like opening a door, it helps you get back in control and can highlight the choices you have.

 

  • Not taking on too much, accepting offers of help from others are great ways to help reduce your stress levels.

As parents we also need to remind ourselves that we are doing a good job and to recognise that good is good enough and that no one is perfect.

Learn to relax physically

To help reduce your stress levels relaxation is important but being able to relax your body is a skill. A lot of my clients find it hard to relax as they have spent all day racing round after their children, going to work, doing housework and then when it is finally time to sit down their body is still so full of adrenaline they find it near impossible to switch off.

Some good ways to help you relax are:

  • Physical exercise such as go for a walk or join a dance class.
  • Read a book this is a good form of relaxation as it makes you sit down and also acts as a distraction from the stressful days events by making you concentrate on the contents of the book instead.
  • Breathing exercises Try breathing in for five breaths then out for six slowly.
  • Treat yourself to a relaxation tape or listen to some of your favourite music.
  • Or do nothing, sometimes just to sit still with a cup of tea can do wonders J

By Donna Jones

Counselling by Donna

www.dj-counselling.co.uk

 



A recent survey by parenting website Netmums shows that new parents are being given outdated, contradictory and even dangerous parenting advice from family, friends and even strangers!

The survey found that parents are being “advice” about feeding and parenting which may be out-dated or even dangerous.  Parents are encouraged to take this advice “with a pinch of salt”, and to listen but not necessarily act on the advice, and if in doubt to discuss with their midwife or health visitor.

Much of the family advice was found to be contradictory, with over half (51%) of mums having been told to wake a baby regularly to establish a routine, while 44% have also been told never to wake a sleeping baby!  There are many proponents of the “right” way to parent; but I would urge you to listen to your baby and listen to your heart or gut instinct and do what you feel is right for you.  However well meant, the advice given can be undermining and actually makes mums feel that their parenting skills are being criticised, with 40%feeling put down all of the time.  

You are your baby’s parent – you know your baby best – be confident and follow your instincts!

No two pregnancies are the same, so it is very important that you continue to look after yourself by eating and resting as much as you possibly can.  Remember this time you are also looking after your little one(s) too.  You may feel better or more tired this time around; and certainly having a toddler is hard work.  If your toddler sleeps then you should rest and not rush around doing housework!  If you are exhausted try asking a friend if they would have your toddler for a couple of hours so you can rest.  I can’t stress enough that you need to eat a good diet – ensure that you eat plenty of protein and iron rich foods.

You may notice that you “show” earlier second time around, this is because your tummy muscles have been stretched before and is quite normal.  You may also notice baby movements a little earlier because you know what you are looking for, but don’t worry if you don’t!

Some women say that they are anxious about labour second time around; if you had a difficult labour talk to your midwife about it – ask her what happened and why it happened and what are the chances of it happening again, however second births are usually much easier and shorter.  It is usual to be a bit anxious about labour – most women are, but remember you did it last time and you can do it again!

I think it is definitely worth attending childbirth classes if you can – I had four children and I went to classes each time – it gives you time to concentrate on this pregnancy and this new baby; and a birth plan is a great idea, second time around you are better prepared as you know what to expect, you know what you want and don’t want to happen so put it down into a birth plan and if you need advice speak to your midwife.

Successive reports have called for one-to-one care in labour as all outcomes are improved, for example women are more likely to have a normal birth if they receive one-to-one care.  However, to some women this means having the same midwife from booking, through the antenatal period, labour and birth and until postnatal discharge – this type of care may not be available in your area unless you employ an Independent Midwife www.independentmidwives.org.uk.

Consider having your baby at home, there are so many benefits, women usually have shorter and easier labours and this time you will be better able to read your body and can stay at home if you feel comfortable and relaxed and you won’t have to leave your first child whilst you are in hospital.  Staying upright and active will help with the contractions and also keep the baby in the best possible position for birth, but your body will tell you what you need to do; try to relax and have faith in the birthing process.

Women generally recover quicker second time around, this is partly because labour is usually quicker and easier – and also because being an experienced mother usually helps to establish feeding more quickly.

Unfortunately, the more babies you have, the stronger the after pains usually are – this is because your uterus is having to work harder to contract.  Ask for paracetamol which will help and is perfectly safe to take.

Remember that your other child(ren) will need extra love and reassurance – your new baby is much tougher than you think, try to involve the older sibling(s) in what you are doing and have patience – it is usual for children to regress a bit when they have a new baby in the house.  Accept any help that is offered and consider staying in your pyjamas for a few days – it shows that you are not at full strength.  I think women try too hard to be superwoman, just allow yourself some time to enjoy your new baby – they aren’t babies for long, although it sometimes feels like it when you are in the thick of it!

Another guest blog by Sarah:

Harlow Zen’s Birth Story

Harlow is my third baby having had Rohan 9 years previously and Nayt almost 8 years ago.  With Rohan I was induced at 10 days late, in hospital, with an epidural given as I was told he was back to back and it would be too painful, I ended up after 17 hours flat on my back, with a nasty tear and a pretty miserable painful experience to tell but a beautiful baby nonetheless.  I had Nayt 16 months later and keen to never set foot in a hospital again, we used 2 Independent Midwives and had an amazing natural home water birth, in less than 4 hours with no pain relief, no stitches and 23 days late! I was out and about within days, a completely different experience to my first. Both babies were reasonable sizes at 8lb 13oz and 9lb 2oz respectively.

With Harlow, because he was my husbands first and I was a bit rusty having had a good few years off baby making, we decided to use another Independent Midwife as the 1-2-1 care is like nothing else, and gives you the confidence that you will get the best birth outcome and overall experience possible, as they really get to know and understand you.  As my pregnancy progressed it was clear this baby was going to be on the large size, which I had kind of expected. I was advised to cut down on sugar but with a massive cake craving, this didn’t really happen, so I tried damage limitation by continuing to ride as long as I could and towards the end to swim daily and keep up with walking the dog.

I think my confidence in giving birth was knocked a bit towards the end because I had to have a series of late scans to check the placental position, as was slightly lying low at the 20 week scan. This showed up that at 34 weeks the baby was the size of a full term baby. I am reasonable at simple maths, and that added up to one BIG bubba!!

Because of this, I was told to expect an early baby. Unlike my other two pregnancies where I had no pre-labour signs whatsoever, I was starting to get runs of proper contractions about 3 weeks prior to my due date. I had so many signs in fact that I have decided there are no signs until the baby is literally crowning!! Along with contractions, I was nesting, had a show,  had a permanently bad tummy, babies head engaged….never happened to me before labour with the other two, bump shifted down….and then my due date came and went…and my bump un-engaged and shifted up!!!

On Tuesday 18th May after my husband Adam had taken the kids to school I started to get decent contractions. I really felt like today was the day. By midday they had gone, and annoyed I took my dog on a hill walk hoping to jolt the baby out with some gravity! Nothing! I was really sure that was it too, as my dog Phoebe had been all over protective, following me around and sleeping beside me wherever I went.

They started again around 11pm, but having sent our midwife numerous ‘I think its started’ texts over the last few weeks, decided to sleep on it.  At 1.55am Wednesday 19th May I woke up with a jolt as my waters literally burst all over the place. I managed eventually to wake my husband up who had fallen asleep on the sofa downstairs and after a massive clean up operation we called our midwife Valerie and she came out straight away.

The contractions had stopped but restarted around 3am and were roughly every 3 mins, reasonably painful (a 5-6) but not lasting too long. We all tried to get some sleep at 6am, but the contractions slowed down a lot.  By the time my kids woke up and we had agreed they could take the day off school, they were back to quite painful and we all thought finally ‘this is it!’. By about 9.30am I got into the birth pool my husband had busied himself filling and my labour ground to a halt and slowed down. My parents came and took the kids out for lunch as it was my Dads birthday, and gave me a bit of space and peace. At 1pm-ish we asked Valerie to examine me and I was disappointed to find I was barely dilated, and all that pain and hard work had merely helped Harlow to get into a better position.  Valerie left for home and me and Adam went for a walk, had some lunch and then at 5.20pm decided to get some sleep.  My kids were sent off to their rooms to watch a film.

At this point I was feeling despondent and was sure my pain threshold was rubbish. I started soon after to get contractions every 8-9 mins, lasting almost 2 mins and they were really painful. The peaks seemed to last for 40 seconds before subsiding. By almost 7pm I was crying and convinced I was still about 3 cm dilated.  I got very emotional and was convinced I would end up in hospital with a c-section. Adam was amazing and really supported me. He suggested we call Valerie, who had just text me. She came out with the entonox and as soon as she arrived I was getting the urge to push. I was on all fours and could not move into any other position…how I got downstairs I have no idea!!!

I managed to get downstairs and Adam re-filled the pool which we had drained down partially earlier.  I got in, and contractions were very close, strong and the peak lasted ages. Adam was great and helped me get the gas and air when I needed it, and provided emotional support as well as an arm for me to dig my nails in (sorry Adam!!), and Valerie helped me to get past the panicky ‘I cant do this’ with encouragement that I could really trust in.  At 8.20pm I could feel Harlow move down and he was born in the birth pool at 8.40pm. Valerie had called my kids down and they both watched their little brothers entrance into the world.

Harlow was born behind me, so with some jigging I was able to climb over my cord and hold him.  He cried a little and had a feed quite soon afterwards.  He was covered in vernix and his skin felt so soft.  He looked just like 3d scan picture and apparently my first words were ‘Hello Harlow’.  Adam cut the cord after it stopped pulsating and Valerie tied the cord with a cord tie I made specially for the event, and as I delivered the placenta naturally an hour later, Adam, and the kids had all taken turns to hold Harlow and make their introductions. It was the most special sight ever and something they will never forget, nor will I.

At 10.30pm we sent the kids to bed, and after a glass of champagne with Valerie; myself, Adam and Harlow settled down for our first night together. Perfect.

We were all a bit shocked that Harlow tipped the scales at 10lb 6oz, and I got away with a tiny tear and a graze and no stitches!! It was a more painful labour than Nayts birth, and the longest overall labour, but an amazing experience that 5 days after the event makes me ask ‘when can I do it again’???.

This is a guest blog written by one of my clients, Donna, who has recently given birth to twins.

I’m Donna and I am mother to two year old Grace and 9 week old fraternal twin girls Olivia and Faith.

My husband Paul and I are absolutely thrilled with our new arrivals and that we have two healthy girls.  We are extremely proud parents.  I feel particularly proud that I was able to have them successfully at home and have the birth I wanted.  We always remind ourselves how privileged we are to be blessed with twins as it is one of the hardest jobs either of us have experienced as well as being one of the most rewarding.

Before they arrived I often wondered how we were going to cope with a two year old and newborn twins.  Let me tell you, you just do!  Having said that, as each day goes by, we do find ways to make our lives easier and get into a routine that we are all happy with.

Here are a few of my tips on making day to day life easier with twins:-

1.  Accept that you will need help.  Don’t be proud or try to be super mum.  You will be extremely busy and there is just not enough of you to go around when you have multiples.  I am fortunate that my husband has his own business and works from home so he can help out from time to time however, the majority of men will need to go back to work and that is when you will need to have help.  Call on friends and relatives.  Work out what needs doing and allocate tasks to people.  It may be household chores, getting the shopping (although I do recommend you use online home delivery) or helping with older siblings if you have them. My parents live close by and are great with our two year old plus we have some fantastic friends that we can call upon.  At the end of each day, your house will resemble a jumble sale but my advice is to accept you will be busy and let the less important things go.

2.  If you do have older siblings, we found it beneficial to maintain a routine.  Your first born has always had all the attention from you, friends and family and then suddenly that changes when new babies come into the home.   This is where the help of others really comes in.  So that I could focus on Olivia and Faith, my friends and family focused on Grace.

Before we had the twins, Grace would stay with her grandparents every other weekend.  We have kept this up and she has such a good time.  She has the full attention of my parents and they make a real fuss of her.

When anyone comes to visit, they will always acknowledge Grace first and the twins second.  They would also bring a little gift or card for Grace so as she didn’t feel left out with the twins getting all of the presents. We brought Grace a play house from us and the twins when they were born, she was over the moon with that.

Nursery has been a God send for us.  Grace goes 5 mornings a week and she really enjoys it.  She plays with her friends and again gets all of the attention whilst I spend some alone time with Olivia and Faith.

Paul and I now have to share our time with three children but we make sure that one of us baths Grace every night, cuddles up on the sofa to watch her favourite tv programme and reads her a story before bed.  Paul will also take her to the park most afternoons when work permits.  This was all part of her routine before the twins came along and with some slight adjustments, we have been able to keep it.

We encourage Grace to help out with the twins and play the big sister role.  She fetches me nappies when I need them and helps me to dress them in the morning.  This way, she doesn’t resent them being around.

3.  Plan your week.  To avoid never going out of the house, plan small trips out either to the shops or to visit a friend. Life doesn’t have to end because you have twins.  There are some great support groups you can go to where you can meet other mums of multiples and also take other siblings along. Take up any offers to baby sit so as you can do one thing for yourself.  Mine is swimming.  My mum looks after the twins for a couple of hours in the morning twice a week so as I can go swimming.  It really keeps me sane!

4.  You don’t need to buy two of everything or spend a fortune on items designed for twins.  Things such as moses baskets and cots, they can share.  Co bedding can be very settling for your twins as they have been together for nine months.  Having said that, ours did not like being together in the same moses basket so we did have to get two.  They now share a cot though and are very content and happy and sleep through the night – most of the time.

5.  Your home will be chaos by the end of the day.  I just don’t have the time or energy to do all of the housework.  We decided to get a cleaner who comes once a week for two hours.  I recommend you look for a small independent cleaner rather than an agency.  An agency will tend to start from around £20 an hour whereas an independent cleaner will charge around £8 to £9 per hour.  I know it seems like more expensive but believe me, it will be money worth spending.

6.  Trying to find the time to cook and sit down and eat together is extremely challenging.  I found pre cooking and freezing some simple meals gives you that extra time to eat together when the babies are sleeping.  Just defrost and reheat.

7.  If you are feeding one baby in the middle of the night and the second baby wakes up, I found the use of a dummy beneficial.  I’m not a big fan of dummies but it really helps to keep the other twin calm until you are finished and can move on to feed the next.  I found that most of the time Olivia and Faith don’t want feeding at the same time but it does happen occasionally.

8.  Don’t worry if you can’t always settle your babies.  If they are fed, clean, winded and well, sometimes a baby just has to cry.  They will settle themselves eventually.

9.  Finally, don’t be hard on yourself.  You may want to do everything by the book particularly if you are a first time mum, but with multiples you really need to do what is best for you and your babies.  Just remember if you are content and happy then your babies will be too. An example of this was when my 2 year old Grace had an accident and needed to go to A&E.  Paul took her with a neighbour and I stayed with the twins.  The whole time the twins would not settle until Grace was home and I knew she was ok.  The twins could sense I was anxious and responded to that.

Having twins is such a special thing but nothing and nobody can prepare you for how it will change your life.  For more information on twin or multiple births visit www.tamba.org.uk

Donna has also set up a website which offers information about homebirth; she offers a free ebook at www.happyhomebirth.com

I guess this may be more useful if you are planning to hire an Independent Midwife as with the NHS there is less choice, but you still do have a choice of midwife and should remember that if you don’t get on with your midwife you can ask the local Supervisor of Midwives (at the local maternity unit) to help you to find a new midwife.

If looking for an Independent Midwife, I would suggest that you start by looking at www.independentmidwives.org.uk where you can enter your postcode to find the midwives who live closest to you.  This website will then lead you to look at the midwives own websites and you should get a “feel” of the midwives from their websites.  The next step is to email or telephone your favourite midwife(s) to have a chat with them, again this should help you to gauge whether they might be the right midwife for you.

The midwife will want to know where you live (to ensure that she is able to travel to you), she will also want to know when your baby is due (to ensure that she is free at that time) and whether it is your first baby.  If you have had a baby/babies before I would expect her to ask about your experience.  She will also be keen to know where you plan to give birth.

Questions you may like to ask of the midwife include:

How long have you been a midwife? / An Independent Midwife?
Do you like homebirths/waterbirths?
Do you have additional skills (hypnosis training etc)?
What would happen if my baby is breech/I am expecting twins?
What is your normal birth rate?
What is your caesarean rate?
What is your breastfeeding rate?
What is your homebirth rate?
What is your transfer rate?
How much do you charge?
What can I expect from you?
Antenatal care? Labour and birth care? Postnatal care?

I would expect an Independent Midwife to outline the issue of the lack of professional indemnity insurance to you.

If you enjoy speaking to the midwife, I would suggest that the next course of action might be to arrange a consultation.  The midwife will usually be happy to come to your home to meet you and your partner to discuss things in more detail.  Many midwives make a small charge for this meeting to cover their time and petrol costs (this meeting make last a couple of hours) and will be an opportunity for you to ask any questions of the midwife and again to enable you to decide whether she is the right midwife for you.  Most midwives will deduct this fee from the final balance if you decide to book with them.

Some women do “interview” a couple of midwives, and this is perfectly acceptable and perhaps a sensible approach as it will be an important relationship.

An Independent Midwife’s fee may seem expensive, particularly when you can get a similar service for free on the NHS, but I always say to clients that you won’t have many babies and it is important to get things right!  It may be better to employ a midwife and wait a bit longer for the new car or foreign holiday!  An Independent Midwife will usually give you a lot more time than an NHS midwife is able to; she will see you more frequently and give you longer appointments.  The other main benefit is that you will see the same midwife throughout your pregnancy, birth and postnatal period.

I wish you well in your decision-making whether you choose an NHS or Independent Midwife, and if I can be of any help to you please feel free to email info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk


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