New Parent Care in England–You’ve got to be kidding me

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Recently, during a conversation for my husband’s birthday, my mother-in-law told us about when Steve was born.

She mentioned: “Then the midwife comes to your house, you know?”

Me: “To the house? You’re kidding me! Why?”

MIL: “Oh, to check up on the baby – make sure he’s fed, and taken care of. It’s a bloody nuisance. You have to get the house clean and she comes snooping around to see how you’re getting on.”

Me: “I’ll tell her to piss off. She shouldn’t be coming to your house.”

After that conversation, I got to wondering what the deal was. Was that just something they did in the 70s? Was it because their family needed to use the NHS and they assumed something was wrong? Was it because they had a big household?

So I investigated and found out that this is common practice for all woman. Shock. Horror.

From what I’ve read, the midwife comes to visit you 10 days after the baby is born. She may come every day. She does check ups and “reassures the new mother.” I call b.s.

First of all, if the midwife just wants to help you, why isn’t she coming to your house while you’re huffing and puffing, trying to get around with a big bowling ball in your tummy? You think that when you’re sleep deprived, have the baby and other kids, plus any family members who may be coming over to visit, that the midwife just “wants to check up on you.” No. I don’t think so.

From the NHS’s website the midwife may come to visit you at home before the birth, but from forums I’ve also seen that it’s rare and the midwife only comes to your home after the birth. Also, during these visits, the midwife does the regular check ups that she’d do in the office – that means drawing blood and pelvic exams. In the home. Hello, gross. Why wouldn’t you want to go to an appropriate sterile room that’s been scrubbed with disinfectant to have your child and yourself examined?

This is apparently an okay, “great” thing for British mothers, but I just can’t see anything more than shady dealings here. In the U.S. house calls by doctors are antiquated. I don’t know if they do them here because so many people rely on public transport, or because people live in such cramped conditions, but it’s still very strange to me. Twitter has said that it’s a relief to new mothers, but my MIL was on her fourth child. She certainly didn’t need someone showing her how to change the diaper at that point. In the U.S. the only reason a person of official capacity would come into your home would be to check on any child abuse or neglect. This is why I’m super suspicious of the idea that, “Oh, it’s just to help you out.”

My theory was confirmed when I read this article: Health visitor – help or hindrance?

What is a health visitor? It’s a midwife who comes to visit the mother at home after the baby is more than 10 days old. Now, this is horrifying. Basically, she’s a social service midwife who comes around to nose through your home, ask you patronising questions because, yes, they assume a mother is going to neglect her baby.

Health visiting is an oxymoronic dichotomy. That’s just my fancy way of saying that the values of health visiting are in conflict with each other. On one hand, health visitors are required to give support to new mothers. This is the common reputation enjoyed by health visitors. Yet on the other hand they are required to place the same mothers under automatic suspicion of child abuse, erring on the side of caution at all times. Yes – child abuse.

Women should be outraged, offended, and horrified that this is common practice. No one needs to come into your home without a legal warrant to search. This is intrusive and violates any rights to privacy.

“They usually work with mothers once post-partum care is handed over from the midwives, advise on feeding, care and support to both infants and parents, provide routine child development checks and have responsibility for child protection issues.”

So, yeah, they are the Health Police. I’m still not exactly sure what the legal aspects are of all this, but if it is common practice to have someone snooping around your private home just because you’ve had a child, I am beyond words. If mothers have the right to just see the midwife at the office and no fuss will be given to her if she simply doesn’t feel comfortable with someone intruding in her house for a routine check up, then fine. Some mothers may like it while others like me may get the willies just thinking about the idea.

“Although health visitors have no legal right of entry, they do not make a habit of pointing this out to clients”

If this is “just how we do things” and you pretty much have to go along with what the midwife wants to do, then that’s a whole other ballgame. As someone on Twitter put it, “Sound like a Health Intruder! What is this 1930s Berlin?”

Exactly.

“The paradox is that when a mother is threatened with Social Services for “refusing” help, they are then seen as a risk when they “accept” help.”

Dear Lord, what is going on there?! This is totally insane. If I refuse to have someone barge into my home, I’m flagged as an abuse mother?!

But some mothers just don’t see any problem with this. They have the attitude of, “Oh, just grin and bear it.” Are you kidding me? Have no control over your own family? Your own home? Your own personal space? No. No. NO!

Anyway, whether the Health Visitor or Midwife is there to help or not, I simply do not understand why they have to come to your home. I don’t understand why that’s a common thing. I’ve known plenty of new mothers who were out at the mall when their kids were new born. They can get to the doctor’s office just fine, thanks.

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About Suzanne Schultz Pick

Married to Steve. One cat named Jake. Librarian IT Assistant. Writer, teacher, blogger, technological princess.
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