Showing posts tagged with: 'birth'


Maternity units 'shut to mothers'

Sun 8th Feb 2009 by Ben Palmer.

What a sorry state that we are being let down even before we are born. We have excellent midwives in this country, but give them a chance - there simply aren't enough.

BBC: Maternity units 'shut to mothers'

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Misconception that matters

Mon 12th May 2008 by Ben Palmer.

When I picked Emily up from school this afternoon (and I can hear what she'd say to me here, "It's not school, Daddy, it's NURSERY school") I said hello to the head teacher as Emily came rushing out.

"I saved this for you," she said, "It's missing a bit but I thought you'd be interested." She handed me a pulled out spread from a newspaper.

When I got home I started reading it. It was an article from Times2 last week, Save the independent midwife, along with a personal tale, right at the end in the on-line version, written by a mother, Alex O'Connell, who had had a horrific first delivery, and had opted for a home birth the next time, assisted by an independent midwife.

I finished reading it on-line and something jumped out at me. It was the reference to Alex's post-puerperal fever after discharge from hospital first time. How lucky she was that it only took two doses of antibiotics to shift it, and how wrong she was to assume that the lack of infection second time around was because she was far from a maternity ward.

Yes you can acquire an infection in hospital - MRSA, C diff etc - but puerperal/childbed fever is not a hospital acquired infection - it is caused by community bacteria, and nobody is safe. I'm going to go on and on saying it. I'm even going to shout it. NOBODY IS SAFE FROM THIS HORRIFIC DISEASE, whether they deliver in hospital, a birthing centre, their own bedroom or the back of a taxi.

It doesn't matter whether they are young, old, fat or thin. It  doesn't matter if the midwife is independent or NHS employed, it just matters that the symptoms are spotted in time to give you your antibiotics.

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Time for T

Mon 28th Apr 2008 by Ben Palmer.

A little over seven years ago, Jessica met a group of fellow first time pregnant girls at her first ante-natal class.

Two girls emigrated, but five of them went on going to the classes, every week for six weeks or so. The classes came to an end and one by one they gave birth within the space of a few weeks: four boys and a girl.

The five of them continued to meet every week, usually for lunch on Wednesdays, until the children started going to nursery school. The meetings became more irregular, but they stayed in touch and sometimes us Dads joined them for dinner. In the years since, the number of children has grown to eleven.

Since Jessica's death the girls have welcomed me into their group as an honorary Mum, and have supported me hugely in the years since. Her death could not have affected them more - they were such a close knit group.

Today we formed a new group of our own: Jessica's Trust is now formalised with the five of us as trustees. The change from 'trust' to 'Trust' in the masthead reflects this.

I am hugely grateful to the girls for agreeing to help me. There is much to be done, but first we apply to become a Registered Charity.

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NICE delivery?

Thu 20th Mar 2008 by Ben Palmer.

I've just read a good post on Mother at Large's blog about childbirth, pain and expectations about delivery.

It does sometimes seem as though birth has become a bit too competitive, and often I also hear talk of how quickly a mother was discharged, as though speed of discharge is a measure of success. What we shouldn't forget is that, while now comparitively safe, childbirth is a trauma and the historical and natural risks are still as present as ever they were.

While an extended hospital stay is not on anybody's wish list or birth plan, there is merit of staying in for days, rather than hours - as used to be the case. How better to pick up on the warning signs of a complication such as infection than by regular observations by a midwife?

But on that subject, all too often I hear that regular postpartum observations are no longer routine, unless infection is suspected - indeed the NICE guideline on Routine postnatal care of women and their babies [PDF] even says as much for some reason.

This is madness: how on earth is an infection going to be suspected early enough unless it's being checked for?

Another postnatal phrase I hear a lot of is: 'Mother and babe both doing well'. It's what everyone wants to hear and illustrates the feeling of joy and euphoria of a new and safe delivery, but a caveat: Childbed Fever can hit anybody at anytime - even weeks after a trouble free delivery.

I wouldn't want to cast a cloud over anybody's happiness, but never be complacent - please keep an eye on the symptoms, even if your midwife isn't.

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Virtual Jessica

Thu 31st Jan 2008 by Ben Palmer.

pregnant_with_laptop.jpgJessica Tate has been pregnant since 2004 and has been examined by countless student midwives.

She is a computer based training package, created by two midwifery lecturers from Swansea University, Susanne Darra and Marian Mclvor.

The project has just won an award at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) sixth Annual Awards Ceremony, and there is a plan to roll Jessica out to other universities.

It is a genius project, and although Jessica Tate's pregnancy is 'normal' there are just a few minor warning signs thrown in. Susanne Darra, one of the program’s authors, says, “There is a big issue in the western world with ‘problem’ births and it doesn’t have to be like this. We have a strong trend to alert people to problems, but most of the time things turn out fine.”

If only Jessica could develop a fever and a rash, a few days after being discharged from a normal delivery, then she could be a really powerful teaching aid.

External Link: Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Sixth Annual Awards

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Maternity resources

Wed 30th Jan 2008 by Ben Palmer.

BBC NEWS | Health | 'No plans' for migrant birth rate

The government should have done more to help the NHS cope with the increase in foreign-born mothers using maternity services, the Conservatives say.

How can the government keep saying that they are working towards having a named midwife for every mother, when the number of midwives is so low? 36 midwives per 1,000 births are required, yet the average is only 31 and it is as low as 26 per 1,000 in some NHS Trusts.

If the birthrate continues to rise (whether caused by immigration or not) then maternity services are going to be even more stretched unless this vital area of care is properly resourced. There is no way that any midwife can provide the recommended level of care if she is spread amongst too many mothers. That is the case in hospital and within the community.

CEMACH recommends* that 'routine observations of pulse, BP, temperature, respiratory rate, and lochia should be made in all recently delivered women for several days postpartum' and yet most women are turfed out of hospital within a few hours, and often receive only one or two visits from a midwife in the community. How is anyone going to spot the signs of serious illness?

* Saving Mothers' Lives 2003-2005, p102

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Hard labour: The maternity service in crisis

Tue 11th Sep 2007 by Ben Palmer.

Hard labour: The maternity service in crisis in the Daily Mail

This is a shocking tale of maternity services in the NHS. It's a story of another mother given a rough ride. It's a miracle she's alive - this was a catalogue of disasters.

Why is a temperature in a mother always excused as something minor instead of being read as the sign of an infection as it once was?

That's not to mention her detached placenta, her baby's distress and increased heart rate, the delayed pain relief and emergency caesarian.

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Mum gives birth in car park

Wed 29th Aug 2007 by Ben Palmer.

Mum gives birth in car park because 'hospital didn't have midwife' from the Daily Mail

Unless the NHS can ensure adequate midwifery staff numbers and stop its ludicrous plans to close maternity units I fear this is going to happen more and more.

What the bureaucrats seem to forget is that childbirth is a traumatic experience for a mother and her child to go through and it is only safe when you have adequate levels of care in place.

There is going to be a tragedy if things don't change soon enough.

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What is childbed fever?

Childbed fever is an infection of the womb in new mothers which can lead to septicaemia. If left untreated infection will cause organ failure and death - even in young, fit mothers.
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What are the symptoms? »
Childbed fever: the facts »

What's the aim?

We would like every parent and every midwife and doctor to know that childbed fever is still a very real threat to a mother's life.
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Can I help? »

Who is Jessica?

Jessica Palmer was a Mum. She died in June 2004, at 34 years old, of childbed fever caused by Group A streptococcus.
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This website contains general information about childbed fever. The information is not complete or comprehensive. You should not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or healthcare provider. If you have any specific questions about childbed fever (or any other medical condition) you should consult your doctor or other healthcare provider; and if you think you may be suffering from childbed fever (or any other medical condition) you should seek immediately medical attention. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.
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