Our little bundle of joy arrived safely (Praise Be to God), however we ended up staying in a while so I thought I’d share what we’ve learned:
- It’s good to have someone with you (partner, friend, relative) when having conversations with medics. A lot of information will be exchanged, and your wingman/woman can help recall details and questions that need asking. They’ll also help after the conversation when you try to remember everything that was said. Of course, the wingman/woman’s top job is to be supportive and reassuring.
- Tell your medics about your history. It’s really important you fill the medic in on the medical history – longer term and more recent – don’t assume they’ve had time to study your notes!
- Be prepared to repeat yourself. You’ll likely see many different medics if you’re in for more than a day or so. Again, don’t assume new medics will have read your notes, or that they’ll have spoken to each other. Give each new face a comprehensive summary of the story so far, even when this gets a bit tedious.
- You will have questions for the medics. Keep a list so you make sure they are all covered off when the medic next pops in. Consultants are crazy busy, so you don’t want to miss your chance for important advice.
- Be proactive in your treatment. For the best results, care decisions need to be agreed between you, your wingman/woman and the medics. Don’t passively take whatever the medic first suggests. Ultimately, it’s your body, and you’re responsible for what happens to it. Medics need your consent to do anything, so take the question seriously and don’t give your consent if you’re unsure about something. Good questions to ask are: What are the alternatives? What are the risks and benefits of particular options? What would the professional advise?
- Dr Google is useful for reading around the subject. Listen to the medic’s advice, then see what Dr Google has to say, you may pick up some useful extra pointers.
- Make sure you’re happy with the chosen course of treatment. Don’t feel steam-rollered into something you don’t really want. If something doesn’t go right, you don’t want to end up regretting not speaking up and taking a different option.
- Make sure you know what’s due to happen, when. Sometimes things will get forgotten or take longer than they should, and you’ll need to chase them up.
I think that covers the important stuff. The tips above are not meant to be a criticism of the care we’ve received, just a pointer as to how to maximise your care . It’s clear that resources are tight, and that the staff are working really hard. This experience has served to remind us how lucky we are to have the NHS, and how important it is to protect it. Huge thanks to everyone on the Gloucestershire Royal Hospital Maternity ward – we are very grateful.
Finally, this experience has reminded me what an amazing woman my wife is – she’s a trooper and I’m a very lucky man to have her.
Have you had a similar experience? What tips would you share? I’d love to hear your thoughts.