Women – especially single women – who’ve just given birth are at their most vulnerable. They have a small new person to nurture and protect, they have post-natal hormones raging around their bodies, and many are physically fragile and often injured from the birth itself.
Midwives and health visitors are routinely sent to check on the progress of any new baby born in the UK. They are supposed to help and support the new mothers. But it seems more and more new mums are feeling abused, bullied and intimidated by health visitors and left feeling vulnerable and scared. Check out the forums on various parenting sites (such as netmums.com) and you’ll find many a discussion on the subject in their forums.
Annie, 39, from Nottingham, claims to have been mercilessly bullied by both her midwives and one of her health visitors, leaving her terrified that her newborn baby was going to be taken into care. Here, exclusive to Yournewswire , is her story :
“Because I don’t want my daughter to be vaccinated, I am now terrified she’s going to be taken away from me.”
“My daughter was born just before Christmas 2014 and whilst staff at the hospital were supportive and encouraging, my postpartum care has been an ongoing nightmare.
During my pregnancy, I refused all screening and vaccinations and nobody questioned my decision. After the birth, establishing breastfeeding whilst recovering from a caesarean was difficult, but I was optimistic and determined to do my best . Five different strangers came trooping through the house; they wanted to look around my bedroom to make sure I wasn’t co-sleeping with my baby. It’s not illegal for a parent to have their baby in bed with them, but they tried to ask leading questions about night-feeding to catch me out.
I was only seen once by my local midwife, who I had got to know over the nine months of pregnancy. When my daughter lost weight in the first week,which is perfectly normal and my milk came in, a midwife I had never met before came to my home and threatened that my daughter would have to be taken into hospital if she didn’t gain weight . I was given rotten advice to strip clothes off my baby and put cold flannels on her to force her to feed, as she was a sleepy baby. Doing this made my daughter scream and she couldn’t latch on at all in that state. It was highly traumatic for us both. There were vague threats that ‘action’ may need to be taken, but she didn’t say what the action would be.
Engorged and having difficulty with latching, I spent the day in tears and a sleepless night worrying. I decided to just follow my instincts. The milk supply settled down quickly, my daughter managed to latch quite naturally without any interference and she gained all her weight back and is thriving. Oddly, the midwife seemed disappointed by this, but reluctantly let me off having to supplement with formula or any other action. But this was not the end…
Next came the visits from the health visitors: the first one I saw was friendly and supportive and told me I was doing a wonderful job, but a different health visitor came on the next visit. She arrived unannounced, a complete stranger in my home, and started asking a lot of questions about my relationship with my partner. ‘Does he hit you?’ was the first one – right out of the blue. I was shocked and told her he didn’t, but she didn’t seem satisfied by my answer. She was bossy and patronising, gave me a lot of unsolicited advice on routines, safe sleeping, immunisations and baby groups. I felt harassed and intimidated. I just wanted her to leave so I just nodded and smiled. She told me I would need a six week review with a health visitor and made an appointment with herself on my behalf. I missed the appointment as I was busy caring for my baby and the health visitor was straight on the phone insisting that I had to see her. I said I’d go for the six week check at our local drop in centre, but she told me that wouldn’t be possible. I ignored her, went to the drop in centre, where they happily gave my daughter her six week review. They were happy with my daughter’s progress and told me I wouldn’t have to see another health visitor until my daughter was a year old.
The next day, the health visitor was back on the phone insisting that I still needed an appointment with her as we needed to organise getting vaccines done. I told her I don’t want my daughter vaccinated. She is seven weeks old now and the health visitor keeps calling to remind me that the first vaccines are supposed to be given at eight weeks. I really don’t want her to be vaccinated (I’ve done a lot of research on the subject) but I am feeling harassed, threatened and intimidated. Because I don’t want my daughter to be vaccinated, I am now terrified she’s going to be taken away from me. I have made it clear that I am anti-vaccinations and I believe this is why I have been singled out and put under extra surveillance. I don’t know what to do next.”
If you’re in the same predicament as Annie, you can check your legal rights with regards to vaccines online.
These days, as a journalist, writer and editor I write a wide variety of features, frivolous and serious. I work mainly for women's magazines and national newspapers and also enjoy writing for independent news outlets and websites - the sort that publish stories the mainstream media fail to report.
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