January72012

Just when you think it’s over…

2 weeks after the traumatic birth of our son, I went back into the hospital. The bleeding wouldn’t stop and seemed to be getting worse.

I called the hospital and spoke to a midwife. She told me in a rather annoyed voice that bleeding was normal and called lochia. She told me to call my General Practice (GP) in the morning and hung up. I was upset.

She hadn’t asked me how heavy the bleeding was, or if I’d had a c-section, or if I had any other problems. I didn’t see a point in calling my GP since they would have no record of what was going on with me, and had not yet been released from midwife (hospital) care due to the symptoms I’d been having.

So the next morning I decided to call the community midwives. I left a message on an answering machine and waited. Near the end of the day I finally got a call back and I told the midwife what was going on. She asked the right questions and then spoke with her supervisor.

I was told to go to the hospital and check myself in. We packed our bags quickly and checked in. After an exam that night I was told that the doctor would see me in the morning. It was a rough night because once again, there was no place for my husband to stay. After all of the sleepless night we’d already endured, staying in a hard chair isn’t much of an option.

So I had my first night alone with the baby. He peed on me for the first time while I was changing his nappy. I didn’t have an extra set of pajamas this time around so I was ill prepared and had to wear a t-shirt.

The next morning I was scanned and then I had lunch. Immediately after lunch they told me that I shouldn’t have had lunch because I needed to go under general anesthesia that day to have a procedure to remove part of the placenta from the womb.

I had to sign a form stating that I understood the risks ranging from bowel perforation to the c-section scar re-opening.

I was terrified. General anesthesia has always terrified me. I wrote out a letter to my son in case I didn’t wake up. I kissed them goodbye and then I was wheeled off once again to the same room where my c-section took place.

The room looked much smaller this second time around and I was able to look at everything from a different perspective. In a way, it kind of helped to put the c-section trauma into perspective. I said “hello” to the same anesthesiologist who was there when I gave birth and had the same name as my husband.

I was told to lie down and I was given oxygen. There was no countdown like I’d seen in movies. I was already hooked up to an iv, but they had to inject my other arm. When they did, it hurt and I could feel the pain and medicine rushing up through my arm towards my shoulder. I started to panic a bit and my breathing became rapid.

Then I awoke to my name being called. I thanked the staff for not killing me, and they laughed. My husband said I was talking nonsense when I was wheeled back in.

I immediately fed the baby. I was shocked that he hadn’t wanted to feed during the procedure as he seems to be the world’s hungriest baby.

The procedure was successful but I had to stay in for another night because once again, my blood pressure was too low and I needed another iv.

Three nights and four days in the hospital and finally, I was able to begin recovering.

October82011

Baby delivered…by c-section.

We are finally home from the hospital with our beautiful baby after a 4 night and 5 day stay.

It all started with a check up on Tuesday. We were told that my bile levels had gone down to safe levels and there was no cholestasis. We were very relieved and the doctor said we were on good track to having a natural childbirth.

We were cuddled up in bed later that night watching “Don’t tell the Bride” when I exclaimed…”my water just broke”. Neil didn’t believe me and thought I was just overreacting to something. He looked down and didn’t see anything.

I told him I felt something gushing out and he moved my leg…but it wasn’t water…it was a ton of…bright red blood.

We called the hospital and they advised us to come in via ambulance. The emergency response lady asked my husband to get towels in case I was in labor…and to check for the head. He looked for the head and I told them that it didn’t feel like I was in labor at all. I’d only had two minor contractions and then the blood.

I began shaking. A lot. A lot of shaking as I realized I might be in labor and I might be having it faster than I thought.

Three nice female paramedics picked me up and I went to the hospital wearing nothing but a shirt and a bath robe as I was told not to wear anything below the waist in case I was in labor.

When I got to the hospital I was wheeled in and examined. I was told that the doctor would be in to see me around 9 am and that I might be induced. There were no other signs of labor and they couldn’t tell where the blood was coming from. Unfortunately, the room we were in only had one bed for me and three very boxy chairs for my husband to sit in. It was agreed that hubby would go home as I’d never sleep with him not sleeping.

The doctor the next morning brought in a scanner after saying he couldn’t find the baby’s head and he may be in breech (wow, we’d heard that one before). He took a look and the baby was in the correct position. He also checked the placenta and said that it was above where it would be posing a problem. He said the head was not far enough down for me to have my water broken. The crochet-like hook was left on the table in our room for later.

They had no idea what caused the bleed but agreed that inducing me would be best. So we spent the day at the hospital with no books, no tv, no magazines, and nothing much to entertain ourselves. I received two doses of prostaglandin inserts over 6 hours (a bit longer due to a shift change) and hooked up to an iv. After asking two different shifts of midwives for a bed for my husband, they said one was available. They rolled in a bed and we were finally able to spend our last night as a couple together.

I went to sleep having a few contractions and was given some paracetemol for the pain. I was offered some diazepam to calm me down and sleep through them but I didn’t want to risk giving the baby drugs so I declined.

At around 4 am I woke up to the now familiar feeling of something gushing. The room was dark, but there were enough monitor lights around for me to reach down and then bring my hand back up to see blood. Lots and lots of blood.

We rang for the midwives and they got the doctor. They examined me, but couldn’t tell what was causing the bleeding. The contractions I was having were strange because my cervix was not dilated at all. Then I had a huge contraction and there was another large gush of blood. The baby was monitored and there was no change in his heartbeat. Luckily.

The doctor told me we were going to have to have a c-section. She went over blood transfusions and the process we’d be going through. I signed the paperwork and was whisked away to the “theatre”. At this point, I was terrified and didn’t want to be separated from hubby…but he had to put on scrubs.

I was administered an epidural and felt my legs go completely numb in a matter of moments. I was laid out on a table and saw the reflection of my legs being moved about in the light up above. A curtain was raised between me and the rest of my body. Due to my already large blood loss…my blood pressure was already a bit low so they gave me medicine in the iv to bring it back up. 

They asked if I had any questions and I asked if there was any way the cord clamping and cutting could be delayed so the blood could be transferred over to the baby. I was told that due to what they thought was happening, that the procedure had to be very quick and that wouldn’t be possible.

Hubby showed up in scrubs and a pink cap. I told him it was ok for him to remarry if I didn’t make it and to take care of our boy. He focused on assuring me that everything would be fine. The suctioning sounds began and a few moments later we saw our baby being taken to a heated lamp on the other side of the room.

I cried. I just wanted to hold the baby, but he was being cleaned and measured first. His cord had already been cut and he was being dressed and wrapped in a blanket. We were told that because the “theatre” is a clean room, we can’t do skin-to-skin contact there and we had to wait to get to the recovery room first.

The baby was 9 lbs. and 7 oz. and 54 centimeters long. They worked on me for a while and I heard the doctor say that it was placenta previa. The condition we’d known about throughout the pregnancy had not cleared up as later thought, but was the cause of everything happening.

I guess this goes to show how inaccurate scanning can be sometimes. We’d had dozens of scans and at least 3 people look at the scans and tell us the placenta was out of the way…when it was not.

The physicians began popping heart monitor equipment onto my chest and there was a problem with my blood pressure going down lower. They told me to let them know if I felt faint or sick because it would let them know of a drop in blood pressure before the monitors. I felt sick. They gave me something to vomit in, but I couldn’t vomit because everything below the lower half of my chest was numb.

I had no muscles to vomit. I thought I was going to die. They ended up giving me two bags of something to bring my blood pressure up.

Meanwhile the baby was brought over for Neil to hold, all wrapped up. I was shaking so much that I couldn’t keep hold of the baby’s hand for very long. My blood pressure was also having a hard time being found so my left arm had to be kept still. I could see the baby but I couldn’t touch him.

Neil had to be escorted back to the room to change before meeting me in recovery so I was left alone with the baby in the arms of someone next to me while they transferred me back into another bed. Then he was placed in my arms as I was rolled back to the recovery room. Neil was there.

I immediately unwrapped the baby because the whole trip down the hall, he’d been searching for a breast. I breast fed immediately.

The rest of the recovery was also a horror story featuring catheters and very, very long drains that were nightmarishly painful when being pulled out.

However we now have our boy and throughout everything, he never seemed to be in any danger. His heart rate was normal throughout and he came out of all of this a real trooper.

September252011

One problem after another.

I was just diagnosed with borderline Intraheptic cholestasis of pregnancy (a.k.a. obstetric cholestasis.) It is most likely genetic even though I’ve not known anyone in my family to have it.

I’m in my 38th week though so we are lucky that I did not get this earlier. We have another scan on Tuesday. This follows our scan from last Tuesday that told us that I had too much amniotic fluid and that the baby is a bit large. Weighing in at 7.5 lbs. at 37 weeks.

My belly grew 2 cm since then (in 5 days). However measurements aren’t so accurate. We had the scan last week because the midwife thought the baby was in a breech position. The fluid makes it difficult to tell where he is. I spent the week on all fours trying to get the baby back into the correct position before the scan. Either the positioning worked, or he was never in breech (probably the latter since he’s been in the correct position throughout the pregnancy).

The itching from the cholestasis is intense but I’m doing my best not to scratch since I know it will do little to nothing to relieve the itch. I’ve turned down medication for the itch because I would rather just not interfere with more drugs in my body than necessary.

One of the symptoms of obstetric cholestasis is upper right quadrant pain. I’d complained about the pain in my side to both midwives and consultants but it was pretty much blown off. I was told it was the baby’s foot in my ribcage. It may have been, but at the time, I felt that it wasn’t the case, and that it was probably something worse. I was probably right.

According to info on the ever-scary-Internet, I should deliver the baby this week for safety. I may be induced. We’ll see how the scan goes on Tuesday. I’m anxious to get him out as one of the dangers is stillbirth. The baby is still punching and kicking like crazy so everything is ok now. It just makes me worry. Plus, I’d kind of like to have a properly functioning liver again.

I just seem to be dodging the c-sections by narrow margins. First it was the placenta placement and then it was the breech scare. Let’s hope I dodge this one too.

August262011

Finally! NHS Approved!

After a meeting with four people from the primary care’s trust, I finally received my NHS number.

We were allowed to submit the evidence that we should have been allowed to submit from the beginning during a formal meeting. It became clear that the people on their front lines didn’t know what they were doing when they outright rejected us and told me that I could’t receive care because I was an American and because of where we were living (in England!).

Telling me to seek private care in an area where there are no private maternity services was a big no-no.

I signed up to receive my certificate for free prescriptions and I’m looking for a dentist now. It really has been a stressful struggle with the primary care office. The staff at reception are still VERY rude to me (well, at least one in particular is). However, their rudeness won’t stop me from going in and getting treatment.

I’m on my second ear infection this month. The first time I went in I was only able to see a nurse. Unfortunately, even after going and confirming the medication’s safety on a pregnant woman with a doctor, the medication she prescribed me was not safe for pregnant women.

It was an ear spray and hopefully there will be no negative effects from the spray. After I was NHS approved and no longer made to fill out a form declaring myself a visitor (The lady at the front desk kept insisting I put down my address in Japan even though I don’t have one!) I was finally able to see a doctor.

The doctor prescribed me the same medication but when I went to have the prescription filled, he called me back and gave me another saying that the spray was not safe. I’m glad he caught it…but really…I’ve never had that happen before.

Luckily, I have been quite happy with the hospital services so far and everyone there has been very nice and accommodating. They put a fake NHS number into their system for me so that I could receive treatment pending submission of documents. However, they still haven’t sent us the form for submitting our documentation. Though we also haven’t received a bill…so whatever.

The NHS hurdle has been jumped over…now onto the bigger hurdle.

6AM

Bradford mum wrongly told she had miscarried

From the BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-14555700

An investigation is under way at a hospital after a mother-to-be was wrongly told she had lost her baby.

A midwife at Bradford Royal Infirmary told Chelsea Muff she had miscarried when she had an ultrasound scan seven weeks into her pregnancy.

A second scan, carried out two weeks later at the request of Miss Muff, revealed her baby was still alive.

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it was investigating the circumstances.

Miss Muff, 32, went for her first scan last month after she noticed some spots of blood.

'In shock'

"The midwife told me I had miscarried. A consultant came in and confirmed what she said.

"I had gone there by myself expecting everything to be ok. I was so upset, I just lay there in disbelief."

The mother-of-two was offered tablets to induce labour, but chose not to take them, instead opting to see if the tissue would come away naturally.

"I was in shock. I wanted to hold on to the baby. I didn’t want to believe it was no longer there."

As the days went on Miss Muff experienced no bleeding and a hospital appointment was made for two weeks later to remove the tissue.

Ms Muff then started researching about miscarriages, which made her concerned about her own situation.

"It just seemed strange that I hadn’t bled or had any pain. I felt fine and was showing all the normal pregnancy symptoms.

"The day came for my appointment and I didn’t go. Things just didn’t seem to add up."

Miss Muff then requested a second scan which showed her baby was alive.

Formal complaint

"I heard a thudding sound, a heartbeat, I knew the sound but thought I was imagining it.

"The midwife said she couldn’t understand how they had got it wrong the first time."

Miss Muff, whose baby is due on 14 February, has now made a formal complaint against the hospital.

"The fact I could have terminated my own pregnancy and not known about it is unthinkable.

"You put your trust in doctors and when it’s a matter of life or death like this, they cannot afford to get it wrong."

The hospital trust said: “We sympathise with Miss Muff for the distress she has experienced.

"The trust is taking all necessary actions to investigate the circumstances and has contacted Miss Muff directly to discuss her concerns."

August122011

Co-sleeping

After reading everything I possibly could about crib (or “cot” as they call it in the UK) safety I decided to purchase the Arm’s Reach Universal Co-Sleeper cot. There is a video about it here.

It attaches to our bed so I can reach over easily to breast feed or care for the baby. This will also come in handy if I have to have a c-section (My low-lying placenta had better move up!).

Safety-wise I think it makes sense to sleep with the baby next to you. I don’t understand the separate room thing seeing as how most animals on this earth sleep with their babies.

The cot turns into a playpen later on, which will save us a bit of money. There have been no reported deaths or injuries attributed to the cot as far as I can find. There was a recall of an earlier version but no injuries or deaths were reported before or after the recall. The cot was developed by a doctor who specializes in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

However, for some reason the highly popular and highly reviewed cots are disappearing from the UK. I think we may have snagged up the last one. With the exception of one website for twins, no one else is selling them. The sheets, replacement parts, mattresses etc. will no longer be sold in the UK.

I know there has been a ban on drop-side cots in the US but I don’t see how this cot could have been banned along with the regular ones. They still sell the drop-side cots here in the UK and other co-sleeper cots that I looked at didn’t seem to be as safe as this one so I don’t understand why they are no longer being sold here.

The drop-side cot ban also seems to be a bit much. I can see babies being harmed by shorter moms who have to stand on stools to put their babies in the cots or parents dropping the babies because they can’t reach far enough to lay them down nicely.

I had to order sheets from Amazon.com and have them delivered to my mother’s house for her to send to us. It’s too bad this cot is endangered in the UK

If anyone has any information about this. Please let me know.

Meanwhile, I’m happy with the purchase. We set it up easily and I will rest easier knowing the baby will be there right next to us.

July272011

Things looking up?

I was finally able to see a midwife on Monday. Midwife appointments are held at children’s centers. My pre-natal yoga teacher was teaching a baby yoga class in the next room. Songs drifted through the walls as my husband and I asked questions and tried to explain the difficulties we had with the primary care practice. The midwife immediately pulled some strings and got me into to see a consultant at the hospital the next morning.

We waited for an hour and 20 minutes in the waiting room (plus we got there a bit early) and the consultant didn’t end up seeing us. A registrar answered my questions, gave me an exam, and then I was thankfully fit in to get an ultrasound.

So things didn’t go perfectly, but at this point, I was just happy to get in and be seen at all. We are still unsure if we will have to pay for care or not. It seems the hospital care is quite good and won’t refuse services to a pregnant woman whereas a primary care practice is free to turn anyone it wishes away.

The ultrasound tech didn’t have to go looking for the gender of the baby but I politely mentioned that if there were time, I wouldn’t be opposed to knowing since the doctor in Japan seemed unsure the last time we saw him (we think he forgot he told us it was a boy). After she measured the baby (he is so active it is very hard to pin him down for measuring) she told us that it did seem to be a boy.

All looked well and we paid a few extra pounds for a photo of his face.

The bad news is that I have a low-lying placenta. We’re hoping it clears up by the next ultrasound. Meanwhile I’m restricted from doing certain activities and have to keep an eye out for bleeding.

I’m hoping that it does not cover the birth canal so I can go though with my plans to have a natural childbirth without pain-killers..and in a birthing pool. I will be quite upset if I have to have a c-section. It isn’t what I’ve been planning for at all.

The midwife informed me the birthing pool at the hospital is not used regularly so I shouldn’t have any problems getting it. I hope she is right as there is only one pool and if it is being used, then I am out of luck.

I watched the Panorama documentary about the shortage of midwives in the UK and I was not as scared as I thought I would be. The Grimsby hospital seems to have its act together. They have a low c-section rate and have been very nice and accommodating to the 2.5 of us.

Information about the Panorama documentary is here:

4,700 Midwives Needed To Keep Pace With Birth Rate Says Royal College, As Damning Report Leaked By Panorama

Ahead of a controversial programme that will reveal how maternity services in London are struggling to cope with increasing birth rates and a shortage of staff, the Royal College of Midwives has told The Huffington Post UK that the government must support an increase in funding.

An independent review conducted for NHS London, which has been leaked to the BBC’s Panorama, found that substandard maternal care was a major factor in 17 deaths across London between January 2009 and June 2010.

The BBC investigation found that maternity units closed 1,055 times in 2010 due to under-staffing and a lack of beds. At least 927 women were turned away, the programme said. Barnet Hospital in London closed 102 times, the most of any ward in the country.

Jacque Gerrard, director for the Royal College of Midwives UK Board for England, told The Huffington Post UK that midwives felt unable to provide the standard of care that they are trained to provide.

"They’re feeling extremely over stretched," Gerrard said. "The standard that we are aiming for is one-to-one care . When we speak to women they tell us that they can see midwives are extremely busy. Women feel guilty, even embarrassed at times to ask for information or advice because they can see that the service is stretched."

Closing wards due to under-staffing or a lack of beds is a last resort and is usually not a safety issue, Gerrard said. “But from the woman’s experience perspective, and from the perspective of the midwife, they’re already dissatisfied because the women want to give birth to their babies in the local maternity unit. They don’t want to be transferred out of the area.”

The Royal College of Midwives estimate that 4,700 midwives need to be added to the NHS just to keep pace with rising birth rates. It says that the birth rate has risen more than 20 per cent in ten years, and is rising faster each year. However increases to midwives promised by Prime Minister David Cameron in opposition have not materialised.

Panorama found that the average midwife vacancy rate in England was five per cent, but was as high as 20 per cent in some London trusts. However the Royal College of Midwives said the problem was still one of funding, because posts were not available evenly across the country.

"We need 4,700 midwives to keep standing still and provide safe maternity services. It’s an issue of funding," Gerrard said. While the government have supported midwives’ training, and while there are up to 300 applicants for each training course in some areas areas, "when [students] come out there aren’t the jobs for them in the NHS".

Compounding the problem is the fact that the age of midwives is fairly high, and that many will retire before changes to NHS pensions are made as a part of wider coalition reforms.

Gerrard said: “If Mr Cameron went back to the promise of 3,000 midwives that would be a huge surge of midwives into maternity units and into the community and standards of care would improve. Women would be satisfied, outcomes would be positive and hopefully we wouldn’t be getting the situations that we may be seeing in Panorama.”

However, Gerrard added that women who watch Panorama should not panic. “The last thing we want to do is scaremonger. We want women to know they can trust their midwives. If there are any problems contact your midwife and they will explain the situation at a local level,” she said.

6PM

saranging-deactivated20110910 said: That's horrible that SOOO many people won't move their lazy butts.... I'm actually soo disappointed in those people....

I was disappointed too. Some of my friends were very mad about it. I wish I’d been able to go to NHK to show them the photos before I left.

July252011

Substandard care linked to maternal deaths in London

21 days in England and I will finally get to see a midwife at the hospital for an hour today. Primary care of any sort, including my week 28 week gestational diabetes test has been denied to me so far. The regulations are due to change on August 1st, but that day can’t come soon enough.

Please visit this link for the original story and check the sidebar for even more shocking stories here.

Proper maternity care could have prevented the deaths of 17 women in London over 18 months, according to a report seen by BBC Panorama.

The NHS in London asked an independent body to investigate after the number of maternal deaths in the first half of 2009 exceeded the total in 2008.

Their report concluded 17 out 42 deaths could have been avoided.

NHS London’s chief nurse said it has addressed shortcomings in maternity services across the organisation.

Professor Trish Morris-Thompson, who is also a practising midwife with NHS London, she said: “There were a number of opportunities to prevent death occurring and because of that, we have taken enough action across the organisations in London and we will continue to do so to put right those actions.”

Professor Morris-Thompson added that while “less than optimum care was given and death did occur, however, in the context of 200,000 births during that period a lot of women were cared for”.

You expect that you’ll walk out of that hospital the next day, with your child. And to not do that was devastating”

Heather Paterson

The report also found that some of the hospitals’ own inquiries into the deaths were not always accurate or objective.

Of 29 serious incident reports scrutinised for the independent review, the panel of experts only agreed with the findings in 12 of them.

Their report states that many hospital-based inquiries were “defensive in nature.”

The panel disagreed with six of those inquiries that concluded the deaths were unavoidable, saying “different management and earlier diagnosis could have changed the outcomes.”

'Pressure relentless'

The report also discovered many of the mothers did not get in touch with maternity services until late in their pregnancies.

Of the 42 mothers who died, half were from deprived backgrounds and two thirds were from the black and ethnic minority population.

The State of Maternity Care

  • 2010: Maternity units temporarily closed to new admissions 1055 times
  • There were 798 temporary unit closures in 2009
  • Staffing levels given as the reason for unit closure in 48% of cases in 2010
  • UK average midwife vacancy rate is 4%
  • UK average ratio of births to midwives is 32 to one

Source: Panorama Freedom of Information requests

Panorama has also used Freedom of Information requests to survey the provision of maternity services across the UK.

The programme contacted every maternity unit in the UK - 171 in total - and received replies from 88%.

The findings reveal that maternity units temporarily closed their doors to new admissions 1055 times in 2010, resulting in at least 927 women needing to be transferred to other maternity units, a 32% increase from 2009.

These closures were caused by staffing issues in almost 50% of the cases, with units being at capacity the second most cited reason.

The survey also asked what the vacancy rate for midwives was at each unit.

In Wales and Northern Ireland it is below 1% and in Scotland just above 1%. The vacancy rate in England is nearly 5%.

But in some London NHS trusts the rate is as high as 20%.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) estimates that at least an extra 4,700 midwives need to be employed across England and Wales to provide a safe service.

The college’s Cathy Warwick said: “The problem I think for midwives now is that the pressure is relentless and none of us can keep our standards as high as they should be if day after day we’re working under extreme pressure.”

In a statement, Health Minister Paul Burstow said: “Safety is paramount in the NHS and all mothers and their babies should expect and receive consistently excellent maternity care.

"We will continue to work with the Royal College of Midwives to make sure we have an appropriately resourced and skilled maternity workforce based on the most up-to-date evidence."

No heartbeat

The staff shortages come as the UK experiences the highest number of births in almost 20 years - in 2010.

A rise in overweight and older mothers and an increase in multiple-births linked to IVF treatments has left some maternity services struggling.

Heather and Iain PatersonHeather Paterson and Iain Croft have since had two more children

Heather Paterson was 40 when she became pregnant with her first child.

At nearly two weeks overdue she was booked into London’s Royal Free Hospital to be induced but was turned away because of a shortage of beds and staff.

She and husband Iain Croft returned the next day but the couple said Ms Paterson’s midwife was dealing with another woman in labour and kept leaving Heather alone. She asked Mr Croft to keep an eye on the machine that was monitoring the baby’s heart rate.

Mr Croft said he called the midwife three times when the heart rate dipped but still she did not stay in the room or call a doctor.

Three hours later, when the baby’s heart rate could not be heard, a doctor was called and Ms Paterson was rushed for an emergency delivery.

The delay starved baby Riley of oxygen and he died 35 minutes later.

"I was a healthy woman. I had a healthy baby. And so you expect that you’ll walk out of that hospital the next day, with your child. And to not do that was devastating," Ms Paterson said.

Click to play

BBC News reporter Shelley Jofre reports on the substandard maternity care in London hospitals

At the inquest, a jury ruled that neglect contributed to the baby’s death.

The couple complained to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) about the conduct of two midwives.

They claimed one midwife verbally abused Ms Paterson and the second was neglectful over the monitoring of the baby’s heart rate.

The NMC ruled their fitness to practice was impaired. A full decision on the midwives’ futures will be made in September.

July182011

Free cancer chemicals and endocrine disruptors for the baby!

I obtained a free pregnancy pack full of free goodies for the baby. A sampling included diaper wipes, diaper cream, disinfecting wipes, and a newborn disposable diaper. I’m going to give these items away at my next pre-natal yoga class since none of it will go near my baby.

I can’t believe that in this day in age, parents fall for this crud. I’m amazed that a baby is exposed to so many products on a daily basis without a parent knowing what is going into their children. (On a side note I am horrified to see toddlers and children sucking on these bottle things called “Fruit Shoot” that contain aspartame, acesfulfame k, trisodium citrate, dimethyl di, malic acid, and carbonate. What is wrong with plain juice? These drinks are marketed to replace colas as a healthier alternative but again…hello…fruit juice anyone?)

If I were to use these free goodies on my baby, he would be exposed numerous times a day to baby wipes containing: Phenoxyethanol, bis-peg/ppg-16/16 peg/ppg-16/16 dimethicone, and PEG-40.

The free diaper contains: petrolatum and paraffinum liquidum. Of course, those are the only additives that the diaper companies are required to list due to the lotion on the diaper. Most disposable diapers also contain dioxins, sodium polyacrylate, tributyl-tin, volatile organic compounds, and other bad things. More about those scary chemicals are listed here. How many of these diapers and wipes are used daily thus increasing a baby’s exposure to these chemicals? One is too many in my opinion, especially when you consider other exposures to these chemicals and more every time you use a chemical based shampoo, lotion, laundry detergent, canned baby food, or fabric softener.

No wonder the kids get nappy rashes.

One of the scariest ingredients was in the nappy creme sample. It contained BHA, Benzyl Benzoate, zinc oxide, paraffinum liquidum, and propylene glycol.

I won’t be signing up to obtain a second pack of goodies. If this is what is going to be marketed to me, they can keep it.

7PM

National Health Services a no go?

Well, we have arrived and settled in England and found that despite every posting on the web stating otherwise, I am unable to obtain free health services through the NHS as a spouse of a UK citizen. This is of course, according to the local doctor’s office. The lady stated that because I was an American and didn’t have property or a mortgage in my own name, then I could not receive services.

It is difficult for most people here to get a mortgage so I don’t really know where this is coming from as the mortgage requirement is not listed on any NHS or government website that we have found.

We were notified today after 5 p.m. after a week and a half of waiting. It has now been over a month since I have last visited a doctor. I am reliant upon the Internet and books to take care of myself.

When I think about all of the millions around the world who have babies without health care at all, it is comforting for me to remember that this is a natural process, and not necessarily a medical one.

My husband is greatly supportive and we talk a lot about kick counting, my weight gain, chemicals we will and will not expose the baby to and other things.

Tomorrow will be a day full of phone calls, paperwork, a visit to the office to try and appeal the decision that was made without asking for any evidence of our residency here or background regarding our circumstances. 

June302011

Weird obstetric interactions

My entire experience with the Japanese obstetrician has been both strange and bad.

The first time I met him, I was very uneasy. I really did NOT want him to go anywhere near me down there as he looked a bit creepy. He is the owner of the hospital. It is a rather large and well known hospital in the area.

We chose him simply because he website says he speaks English. Indeed, he does speak English but when the rest of the staff around you can’t speak any, it is still difficult to get things done. Over the course of the six months I’ve seen him, these things stand out:

-Overcharging. I was charged for a urine test that I never took. I took the receipt home and asked my husband what the charge was for and I was livid when he told me. Both because I was charged for a service that wasn’t provided, and that I didn’t receive a service that should have been provided.

-The Nagoya City office pays for a certain number of visits to the obstetrician but you must first obtain a proof of pregnancy certificate. I did not receive mine until the third visit because I was a foreigner. This meant that I did not get a “maternity mark” until my second trimester, and I had to pay for three visits when a non-foreigner would only have to pay cash for one. On my first visit I was required to put down a 20,000 yen deposit before I was allowed to see the doctor (and I waited two hours to see him).

-I told him I was concerned about gestational diabetes as I am an American Indian and diabetes is genetic in my family. He told me not to worry because women don’t gain weight in the first trimester. I asked him if I could be weighed. He changed the subject. I was not weighed and unfortunately, there is no record of my weight both before I got pregnant and at any time during the first trimester.

-I was subjected to a transvaginal ultrasound every single visit. It hurt, he was not gentle. One time he applied gel that was not warmed to my nether regions and I gasped that it was very cold (I WAS FROZEN!) and he simply replied “It’s summer, it is supposed to be cold”. Then he slathered on the heated gel.

-He told me that my placenta was blocking the birth canal and didn’t explain to me what that meant for my pregnancy. I jokingly asked him if I could do anything about it like running and jumping and he didn’t get the joke, looked at me as if I was crazy and said “NO!” Reading up on placenta previa, I learned that sex might be an issue. This was never discussed with me at all. Luckily at the last visit, we learned that the placenta was moving out of the way and in the right direction.

-For my first over the belly ultrasound he noted that my belly button ring might be a “tumor”. I guess he understood jokes after all.

-No one told me that I had to have a full bladder for the belly ultrasounds. I ended up reading about it in a book after-the-fact. My first belly ultrasound had a clear picture and I’d drank a ton of water before it. The second ultrasound was not so clear and though it was only three weeks after the last clear ultrasound the doctor noted very quietly that it was because of my fat. I’m sure it had nothing to do with my empty bladder. Oh no, fat foreigner.

-During the first over the belly ultrasound we were told that he believed the baby to be a girl. I thought I’d clearly seen a boy part. He said that he was unsure. We were sent out into the lobby thinking we were having a girl. Ten minutes later I was called back in, sat into the uncomfortable chair and low and behold I was going to get a transvaginal ultrasound. At this point, I was still concerned about the placenta and didn’t know why I was getting another ultrasound. Then he said “Oh, I see something”. I had no idea what and as birth defects, twins, and ruptured placentas ran through my brain I exclaimed “Twins?”. He replied, “No, a penis!” It’s a boy.

-After the Tohoku quake he told us that many foreigners had fled Japan. He was surprised that we were still around. (This is not weird, just noted).

June252011

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

From: www.health.qld.gov.au/multicultural/health…/Japanese-preg-prof.pdf

Here is some information I tracked down from Australia. It has some interesting information about some of the traditional and cultural beliefs and practices around giving birth in Japan.

"-Morning sickness is not usually discussed, even within the woman’s family.

-Pregnant women are usually advised to abstain from any activities which require concentration. They may believe that epinephrine released at the time of maternal mental stress may harm the foetus.

-Women may not restrict the types of foods they eat. They may not avoid raw
fish or stop drinking green tea (despite the risks of bacteria and caffeine), and may not take prenatal vitamins.The importance of following the dietary recommendations for pregnant women should be highlighted.

-According to Japanese tradition, women in their eighth month of pregnancy should reduce their level of physical activity and move to their maternal home for delivery.

-Childbirth is considered a natural event and is usually drug-free and midwife assisted.

-Women in labour are encouraged to eat, as it is believed that food will provide the strength and energy needed for effective pushing.

-Women are also encouraged not to cry during labour.

-Fathers are not usually present during labour.

-In Japan, women stay at their maternal home for up to eight weeks after the baby is born. There a postpartum woman can rest, recuperate, and learn how to take care of the infant.

-Infants are usually cared for by the mother of a postpartum woman. This should be kept in mind as Japanese women in Australia may not have access to this support system.

-In Japan, showering or washing hair is prohibited until seven days after birth (including in hospitals). Postpartum women should be informed that in Australia showering after birth is recommended, but it is the woman’s choice.

-Breastfeeding in contemporary Japan is no longer as widespread or as prolonged as it was in the past. Japanese women who breastfeed their infants are in the minority. In Queensland, the majority of Japanese-born women breastfeed their infants.

-Breastfeeding outside the home, even in mothers’ care rooms, is still considered
embarrassing and shameful, so very few women feed their infants outside the home. 

-Japanese women may be concerned with gaining weight during their pregnancy and postpartum period. They may restrict their diets and subsequently, may be unable to
produce enough milk to feed their infant.

-Formulas are usually introduced at two or three months.”

Most, if not all of my posts surrounding birth in Japan have been pretty negative. I am itching to get out of here and return to a life that at the very least, allows me to eat at restaurants.

However, I have to give Japan great props for its lower caesarean rates and its focus upon natural childbirth unaided by pitocin, epidurals, and pain killers.

On the other hand, I think it is shocking that to this day, some hospitals simply do not allow the father to be present during labor. If you are pregnant in Japan and want your husband or partner to be with you, it is important to make sure well in advance, that the hospital allows them to be there.

The part about breastfeeding was also shocking to me. I know everyone here is so very concerned about their weight. This concern feeds into the notion that pregnant women should not gain a lot of weight. When I visited the doctor and found that I had been gaining (according to western standards) a good amount of weight (one pound per week), the midwife told me that I should think about gaining less weight per week. She said “fruits and vegetables”.

My husband looked at me a bit funny and afterward assured me that my weight gain was fine. After all…I am pregnant. So I did some research on malnourishment and birth weight in Japan and pulled this from an abstract (I was unable to read the entire article however)

"Mean birth weight of Japanese infants has declined and low birth weight prevalence has increased since the mid-1970s. We hypothesized that this change was due to increase in underweight and smoking mothers and restrained weight increase during pregnancy. Through the analyses of nationwide surveys, the prevalence of underweight young women aged 15-29 years has increased to nearly one-fourths from 1976 to 2000. Mean birth weight decreased from 3,189 .+-. 422g in 1980 to 3,033 .+-. 429g in 2000, and low birth weight prevalence increased from 4.2% to 7.6%. Smoking in pregnancy increased from 6.5% in 1990 to 10.9% in 2000. From a multi-centered hospital based survey, we found that pre-pregnancy under-weight (BMI under 18.5kg/m’2’), low weight gain (under 7kg) during pregnancy, and smoking during pregnancy were independent risk factors for low birth weight."

If a woman is not nourishing both herself and her baby and can’t breastfeed because of it…then something is very, very wrong. I think this can also be said for the western societies who seem to have forgotten about the importance of breast milk and chosen the alleged convenience of formula over it. The marketing and expense of formulas is absolutely ridiculous (as well as the dangers).

I digress.

2AM

"Cruelty of giving birth in Japan"

From the Japan Times in 2002. I see that not much has changed as many of the things she has described have already happened to me.

By KAY LAM-BEATTIE Brisbane, Australia

In his Oct. 13 article, "Japanese will have babies when living is easy," Philip Brasor omitted a very important aspect of having children in Japan — the birth process itself. Prior to the birth of my first child, I read up on a few soothingly pastel-colored guides to pregnancy and childbirth (the type where all the babies are smiling) published in Britain, the United States and Australia. They discussed options for childbirth, typical procedures and so on. The first time I went to see my doctor in Japan, I asked him what options they offered for pain relief. He laughed, and said they only offered pain relief to patients with mental problems! It all went downhill from there.

I’m not sure what I disliked the most: the doctors’ practice of talking over my head as if I wasn’t there; waiting in a corridor watching dozens of nurses bustle past; lying naked from the waist down on the examination table with my feet up in stirrups for 30 minutes before the doctor even got around to seeing me; the lack of separate consultation rooms so that 20 women in the corridor could hear the doctor quizzing me on my sexual history; or undergoing all ultrasound examinations (every visit!) vaginally since there was no external ultrasound procedure. Or was it because I was offered no gas, no “pethidine” — not even a headache tablet? After 20 hours of labor — when they finally agreed to give me an epidural (the only thing they could offer) — they appeared to have never done it before.

Or was it the continued use of what seemed like pitchfork-size implements without local anesthesia, despite considerable stitching after birth? Or was it the excruciating way the nurses insisted on “massaging” (i.e., squeezing and pinching) breasts to “bring on the milk” after birth?

I insisted on returning to Australia to have my next two children, and the difference in treatment was a world away. Japan may have a low birth-fatality rate, but they almost seem to go out of their way to make it as painful, unpleasant and humiliating as possible an experience for the mother. It’s not surprising that women who have been subjected to this kind of cruelty would refuse to do it again.

June222011

Dad’s 1-2 month vacation

There is a custom in Japan that when the woman gives birth, she immediately goes to her parent’s home for 1-2 months to learn how to take care of the baby. The father does not go with her or the baby.

I asked my husband (he is not Japanese) how he would feel if I took our baby straight from the hospital to my mother’s house for a few months. He was sincerely not down with it. Really, who would be?

I can’t imagine any parent spending that much time away from their newborn (of course, I have never dealt with a newborn yet) simply because it is the custom.

Many a foreigner man married to a Japanese female here have been quite excited by the “vacation” they get from both their wives, and the responsibility of parenting for the first days/weeks/months of their child’s life.

I find these men to be…well…revolting. They are just happy to be out drinking beers with their mates, and indulging in goodness only knows what sort of “activities” while the burden of learning to take care of the child is put upon the mother…100 percent.

When do these men learn how to parent? When do they learn to bond with the child? Why don’t they care to take an active role in parenting their own spawn? Don’t they want to be there to support their partner in life?

Due to this custom some men do not take their paternity leave from work.

Compare this to Sweden where "85 percent of Swedish fathers take parental leave. Those who don’t face questions from family, friends and colleagues. As other countries still tinker with maternity leave and women’s rights."

I can’t figure out why the parent’s of the couple with the newborn don’t visit their children’s house to help settle the couple in with the new baby. There is no need for any family to be split up when a newborn arrives. In many cases, the mother of the newborn isn’t even in the same city as the father when she goes off to learn to be a parent by herself. If complications were to arise, how could a father ever forgive himself for not being there to help?

I ask these questions because I really don’t know. If anyone would care to enlighten me, I would be very much interested in why you didn’t join your wife and new baby and how things went.

← Older entries Page 1 of 3