"The highs and Lows of Postnatal Care"

About: Barnet Hospital

(as the patient),

In July 2016 I was admitted to Victoria Ward to have my son, after he was born we spend 5 nights on Victoria ward and in that time I experienced the highs and lows of Barnet Hospitals postnatal care.

I had a long labour but I felt very well supported by my midwife, she was amazing and I felt my baby and I were as safe as could be.

Following the birth of my son I had to go to theatre. Once I was finished I was placed in a room in the delivery suit area. Here I tried to initiate a feed with my son with limited success. The midwife was dismissive of my request for help and had the audacity to tell me I would have a clingy baby because I was holding him too much. My catheter bag was placed on the bed next to my feet, it was very full and I requested for it to be emptied as it felt undignified. At first the midwife said it did not need emptying but then on further inspection they grumbled and agreed to empty it.

Breastfeeding itself came with a number of difficulties. I kept telling the midwifes my baby was struggling to latch yet few of them took time to help me. I also asked a number of times to try hand expressing some colostrum as I was producing a lot yet my baby was getting very little, only once did a midwife support me in this request.

Too much of the time I felt the midwifes were deciding what they thought was best rather than letting me go with what I felt was best for my son.

There was one occasion when my baby had fallen asleep on my chest and I was laying back on my bed, I was wide awake talking to family so there was little risk of me falling asleep. The midwife who was on duty at the time told me to "sit up" and proceeded to move my bed into the upright position without asking me. When you're in hospital, away from your home, your bed is the closest thing that you have to making a home like environment, it should be your place to feel comfortable in.

By day 3 it was apparent my son was turning yellow. I was repeatedly given mixed information on how to try and avoid the onset of jaundiced. One employee scolded me for keeping him in the dark (In other words next to my bed where I'd been told to keep him! ) as that was "causing him to turn yellow". I asked where am I meant to find sunlight on Victoria Ward? ! I was then told by a doctor that sunlight would make no difference to my baby and it was food he needed.

I felt that very little attention was given to the importance of food after birth. The first meal I was offered after the birth of my son at 4pm on was at 8am the next day. Even then there were various issues that arose with the catering team. There was a lovely lady, unfortunately I never took her name, who served most of my meals, however there was another person who lacked understanding of what it is to try and eat when you have a baby. They would tell me I had half an hour to eat my food but timing she would come and collect my food within 25 minutes (those 5 minutes are everything when your trying to let food cool enough to safely eat at the same time as trying to feed a baby who's not got a good latch), whenever I told them I needed more time they would tut, sigh and complain.

Another issue that myself and other parents found was that of not being able to move your baby unless they are in the cot on wheels. Now I completely understand why the trust has this policy, however midwifes and care assistants seemed very cross whenever they saw someone breaking this rule. We were unaware of this rule and thought the reactions midwifes gave was a little harsh. We understand that midwifes are under a lot of pressure so perhaps a leaflet could be provided with the dos and donts or maybe stickers could be placed on the cots notifying parents of this rule.

In August I phoned the triage team after passing a large solid clot, they were dismissive of my concerns and told me to stay at home. I was also having other symptoms of things not being right. Within two days I was admitted to hospital with an infection.

5 months on and my son and I are doing well. I am so grateful for the care we received from some of the midwifes at Barnet hospital, just sad it was disappointing in a number of areas.