true tales from the gates of the underworld

A sad state of affairs
November 26, 2009, 8:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I am really saddened by the state of some things.

Working on MLU, I meet many different women, at different stages during their pregnancy and after they have had their babies.
Some are confident, some nervous or scared, but most have one thing in common: they all feel excited about their new arrival, and already feel a great love for their babies.

Heavily pregnant women are impatient to meet and cuddle their new babies, new mummies are often worried that they may get things wrong. In my opinion, it is the staff’s responsibility to help them along during the first few days or weeks, offering advice and reassurance.

Many women transfer from the consultant-led maternity ward in the big regional hospital to our quiet and lovely MLU after they have their babies, for a few days of rest and recuperation.

Yesterday, I met M. First time mummy, the bombshell had been dropped on her at 36 weeks that she had dangerously high bloodpressure, so immediate induction was on the cards. After a traumatic labour which ended in EMCS, she was unprepared to cope with a little baby.  Her little one, obviously not prepared to be away from his mummy yet, spent a great amount of time crying.
One of the midwives at our unit noticed M was reluctant to pick up and cuddle her baby, and instead sat crying on the side of her bed next to his cot, watching him. This continued for almost the entire day, until the crying suddenly stopped.
I was asked to go and check on them. As I entered the room, I see M, sitting on a chair in the corner, with her little baby inside her top, holding him skin-to-skin. Baby seemed happy, but M gave me the look of a rabbit caught in the headlights. She apologised profusely to me for picking up her own baby, and giving it a cuddle.

It turns out that one of the midwives at the hospital had told her it was bad for her baby.

All she kept saying to me was that he had only wanted a cuddle, she was sorry, she didn’t harm him, did she?
This turned my insides into a knot.
What kind of world do we live in, where a new mother can’t cuddle and hold her tiny newborn? Is it not love and contact that binds us together?

I spent a couple of hours reassuring her. Showing how to wind and hold her baby.
As I left, I asked her how she was.
She gave me a beautiful, happy smile. Everything is ok, now.

I am furious. I am deeply saddened.
I don’t think this experience will leave me for a long time.