There are other options for ante- and postnatal care

I read today’s article Pregnant women face long delays at hospitals in The Irish Times with interest. The sentence that really got me going was “A woman who was three months pregnant when she recently approached the three main maternity hospitals in the city for a public appointment with an obstetrician was told the first available appointments would be when she was 7½ months into her pregnancy.” I can only take the writer’s word for it that this woman specifically asked for an appointment with an obstetrician. It is probably true because women in Dublin do not seem to be aware that there are other options that would make far better uses of the resources made available to them by the strung out maternity hospitals.

Both the National Maternity Hospital (Holles St.) and The Rotunda offer Domino schemes. These are schemes that are led by a team of midwives. On both of my pregnancies I opted for the Domino scheme in Holles st. I originally heard about the scheme from my GP. On both my pregnancies I opted for combined care which meant that the practice nurse (who also happened to be an experienced midwife) and the team of midwives split my care between them. I think the longest I had to wait for any appointment in the hospital was 15 minutes (not so in the GPs but it wasn’t too bad because I was always seeing the practice nurse). On my second pregnancy, because I opted for a homebirth, I only had one appointment in the hospital; all the rest of my appointments took place at home usually on a Saturday so I never missed any work. I do know that I’m entitled to time off for my antenatal care but I didn’t need it. The only reason I was ever in Holles st. was for my (brilliant midwife led!) yoga classes, for 2 scans, and for the final delivery of my overdue son. I was back home less than 12 hours later.

For me this scheme acknowledged my belief that I was pregnant, not sick, so I therefore did not need to be in a hospital. There was a consultant assigned to the scheme so if any complications had arisen I had access to specialist care. (and I do not have the stats but I BET a majority of pregnancies are without complications of any kind.) I felt completely specially cared for by the midwives on the team who were knowledgeable, interested, down-to-earth, and community focused. They included Himself in all parts of the experience and even on my second pregnancy, and to my parents’ amazement, my midwife asked me if they would like to hear the baby’s heartbeat during one visit thus including the grandparents in the experience. When I was giving birth it was in the company of people I knew and trusted which was a great comfort. When I learnt all the new things a mother needs to learn about feeding, bathing and holding a new baby, I learnt them in my own home environment during daily follow-up visits from the team of midwives. My first days with my babies were in the quiet, comfort and privacy of my own home. There was no pressure to be able to confirm that breastfeeding was established within the three days of delivery before the hospital discharged me. Visitors could come and go at times that suited me. I could eat food that I enjoyed rather than endured. I could watch TV, listen to music, get out of the house and into the garden. Had all gone to plan Nipper 2.0 would have been born in this environment too.

The Coombe Women’s Hospital, as I understand it, are applying for funding for a Domino scheme. While there are costs in recruiting, equipping and setting up facilities for such a scheme it is a fact that they cost far less to run that obstetric clinics with specialists especially when those specialist spend time consulting with women who have no real need for their services. It’s a criminal waste of resources. As I understand from the midwives who cared for me, they have a high success rate but at-risk women are excluded from the programme although I’m not sure if this includes those expecting twins. In the meantime the Coombe have a midwifery led unit and an early transfer home programme and community antenatal clinics.

On the way home this evening I heard Michael Robson, Master of Holles St. speaking to Matt Cooper on The Last Word about this issue. I was very happy to hear him point out that most GPs would be qualified to look after a woman during her pregnancy and would have the knowledge to know when she should be referred to a consultant obstetrician. While he emphasised care in the community he didn’t not mention his community midwives specifically.

I also understand that there is a Domino scheme available from Wexford General Hospital. There may be more available or midwifery led units or community care/ early transfer home programmes available in your area. Ask about them, find out more and at the very least, know your options before you choose to be treated as a patient rather than a healthy woman.

Also check out this article from The Irish Independent where two women describe their experience of midwife ante- and postnatal care.

If today’s news doesn’t lead you to demand more options for your ante- and postnatal care from your local TD, and the Minister for Health I don’t know what will.

Podcasters needed: be a Friend to the Elderly

Two days later than I should have I am now kicking in on the Blog Action day action. This year’s focus is on Poverty. I was swishing an idea about in my mind that I would write about what I learnt when I was researching my essay last year about Early School Leavers. However something has since landed in my inbox and it really involves an actual action rather than just writing about it. Unfortunately I cannot personally action this as I don’t produce a podcast but I am appealing to all my podcasting friends and contacts to weigh in and be a friend to the elderly. Age is a significant factor in poverty and with all the economic doom and gloom in the news at the moment we all know that many people’s pensions are being decimated by forces beyond their control. This kind of poverty coupled with declining health and mobility can really isolate older people and Friends of the Elderly are aware that a friendly chat can do wonders to alleviate what might seem like impossible pressures. We all know that even talking to someone else can give us new ideas for coping with problems and offer us avenues to fix issues or people we can turn to in times of strife. If you are an older person in isolation those chats can sometimes become very rare and so you miss those opportunities to break out of vicious cycles that society can offer us.

I met Dermot Kirwan from Friends of the Elderly recently because he contacted me through my work with the IIA. Dermot is an inspiration, a man full of energy and ideas. I heard from him again recently because he emailed me a MP3 file of an ad that they have recorded with Christy O’Connor Jnr. They can’t afford to broadcast the ad on radio and are seeking donations to help them do so.

However it also occurred to me that this ad is in the perfect format for podcasters to include it in their own shows. So please be a Friend to the Elderly and include it in your next show.
ChristyOCGenFinal.mp3, 462k

Umbrella of ignorance

A number of Irish bloggers were recently writing about their pet peeves. I didn’t get in on it at the time but I saw something today that reminded me of one of mine. I absolutely cannot stand people who litter. I often point out to people that they have dropped something at considerable risk to myself. Since I moved to Crumlin I’ve had to rein in this habit. However there is one young lady currently residing either in Lower Dublin 12 or Upper Dublin 6W and if I see her again tomorrow I am going to have a sharp word with her. This morning, which was truly filthy, as I cycled schoolwards I passed a young lady standing at a bus stop. She had an umbrella and it was in tatters. I dropped the eldest into school (more anon as Gaeilge!) and turned around to head into the Digital Hub where I work. What did I see on my way back? The young “lady’s” umbrella on the side of the road. Not only was it a disgraceful piece of littering but it was also a danger on a very busy road on a very wet morning. When I had passed her originally I thought she looked like she was going to chuck it and I said to myself “Noooo!” I considered stopping to discuss it with her but I was laready running late with the weather and I thought again, “No there’s no way a smart-looking young person like that could be so ignorant.” Now the only other thing that has just occurred to me is that maybe some other ignoramus had chucked it and she had picked it up and was considering what to do with it. No I’m being too nice to the total ignoramus. If I see her tomorrow, she is getting a piece of my mind. Scumbag

My poor bike

And there it was, as they say, gone! We arrived home from a pleasant afternoon strolling around the Curragh and the army barracks (and that’s a story for another day) and Himself says to me “Where’s your bike? Did you leave it in work? Don’t think you’ll fool me with that look. [I must have been looking just slightly more dazed than my previous “I’ve-just-woken-up-from-a-hangover-induced-car-sleep] C’mon where is it?”

I rang the local gardaí who came around straight away pretty much and took a statement. I am now known to the gardaí because the really tall local guard and I recognised each other from my last visit to the Garda Station. This is because I made himself and his colleagues search the whole station for an Irish Language version of the passport form and then when they couldn’t find it and he filled out the English version for me he did it in the wrong colour pen. We really bonded that day.

That evening the doorbell rang and there was a man who we had never seen before. He lived nearby and told us that he’d seen us coming in and out of the house with the bikes and the kids on the bikes. In the wee small hours of the previous morning he had been on his way home from his holidays and what does he see up the road but somebody chucking my bike at a street feature (a big rock) and then into the middle of the road. According to him, my local friendly guards also happened to be passing at the same time and kept on passing! He stopped, picked up the bike and put it in the back of his car. Himself (who is totally nerding it up here beside me with his new Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet PC) went to pick up the bike and it was destroyed. Poor old bike.

However, I am now the owner of a lovely shiny new Trek with a fancy saddle and a clever stand. The issue with the baby seat versus the back carrier continues and the babyseat is currently attached to the post of the seat as opposed to the frame which is a little bit dodgy but the only way to do it. Here’s a link to my new bike although mine has a motorbike style stand which makes it much easier to load a child onto the back.

Speaking of bikes we rented two bikes while on holidays in Ile d’Oleron. The bikes weren’t great but we rented a trailer for the boys (at the elder’s insistence) which they LOVED! Not so easy to cycle with though as it feels like it is constantly pulling and pushing the bike. I would never cycle one here though: cyclists are treated with tremendous care and respect on Oleron and there are plenty of bicycle ways to explore.

I will add photos soon. I dropped our camera on Saturday evening and now it won’t switch back on. I am so popular.

Gaelscoil Oisín le bunú i gCromghlinn

Bhí mé an-chuffed go deo go bhfuair mé r-phost ó cheann de na feidhmeannaigh i nGaelscoileanna chun chur in iúl dom go raibh Gaelscoil nua le bunú i gCromghlinn. Cé go raibh fhios aige go raibh ár leadanna cláraithe le scoil cheana cheap sé go mbeadh spéis agam agus tá cé nach féidir liom freastal ar a gcruinniú an tseachtain seo. Má tá spéis ag éinne ann déan teagmháil le Gaelscoileanna – sonraí ar a suíomh.