Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Archive for the ‘family’ Category



A recent survey by parenting website Netmums shows that new parents are being given outdated, contradictory and even dangerous parenting advice from family, friends and even strangers!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

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

After the recent emergency budget the Government has been accused of hampering efforts to employ more midwives after it unveiled a two-year pay freeze for workers in the public sector.  www.nursingtimes.net/nursing-practice-clinical-research/clinical-subjects/midwifery/pay-freeze-could-hit-midwife-efforts-says-rcm/5016301.article

The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) this week expressed concern that parents trying to raise a family will bear the brunt of the cuts – http://bit.ly/cc81Zy.  Cuts planned include:

  • child benefit will be frozen for three years
  • a cut in child tax credit for those on combined income of over £40,000
  • health in pregnancy grant (£190) abolished
  • Sure Start grant restricted to only the first-born child
  • Lone parents to look for work when youngest child goes to school.

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.

http://lifebegins.channel4.com/

As an Independent Midwife I have clients within quite a wide geographic area, and it isn’t unusual to have a client who lives up to an hour from my home.  If the client has had several children and previous quick labours I occasionally sleep over at their house when they may be in early labour to ensure that I can get to them in time.  However, although my last client usually had long labours and I was thinking that I’d have plenty of time to get there, but when I saw the snow expected I decided that I should go and camp out with her just in case I couldn’t get to her.  I drove over (in blizzard conditions) and felt very relieved that I had as I wouldn’t have relished the journey in the middle of the night.  In the event, her baby didn’t arrive that night, but she laboured the following afternoon and her baby was born in her sitting room at around 9pm.  It was a fabulous birth, in the pool surrounded by her husband, mother and two children who watched in awe.  We all tucked up in bed afterwards, very content and secure.

The following morning after breakfast I was able to perform a postnatal examination on both mother and baby and had the opportunity to discuss the nights events with my client and her children before setting off to go home.

Fortunately my next clients are much more local to home, but I confess to waking several times in the night recently to look out and check how much snow has fallen – after all a midwife can’t stop working just because there is a little (or a lot) of snow!

Written by Kassia Gardner  www.working-mum.co.uk

Nearly 80% of businesses will stop running childcare voucher schemes if tax exemptions are abolished, according to research by the Institute of Payroll Professionals (IPP).  The Government is under increasing pressure to change its mind about its intention to scrap tax exemptions on childcare vouchers from April 2011.

As a family we’d be worse off if this happened, we’re not the poorest of families but childcare is our biggest expense. It costs more than our mortgage! It would be a close call, but in all likelihood we may be better off if I didn’t work at all. This really annoys me, I want to work. I want to earn money, mainly for my own self-respect, so I don’t have to ask Kev for money to buy his birthday / Christmas present. I went to university, worked hard at career and have since started my own business , bright angels, since having my second daughter but if we’re better off with me not working that’s what we’ll do. Otherwise it will be like me paying someone else to let me work! It’s not just the poorest of families that need help, the rest of us have expenses too and they’ve not been going down recently. Energy prices are going up, fridge freezers break and many families need two incomes to pay the bills. Does the Government actually want parents to contribute to the economy and pay tax so they have some income for things like schools and the NHS, or are they looking to develop a generation of stay at home parents?

How would the scrapping of tax exemptions on childcare vouchers affect you?


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