Tomorrow Eleanor will be one month old. I will be taking the breast pump back to Stroud Maternity, along with some Thank You cards. For those of you who do not know, Stroud Maternity is the fabulous midwife-led unit where Eleanor was born. If you live locally and are low-risk, then I would highly recommend Stroud Maternity as your birth choice. And if you’re high-risk and have to deliver in Gloucester or Cheltenham, or even Bristol, do consider going to Stroud Maternity for your after-care.
Anyway, I wanted to show my gratitude, in addition to the cards, in the only way a parent blogger can – by writing a blog post about how fantastic the midwives at Stroud Maternity are, especially Sarah Hunt. Sarah was my midwife throughout my pregnancy, seeing me at home, at the GP surgery and at Stroud Maternity. And, if there’s someone who hands out awards for midwifery, she deserves one. It feels to me as though she went above and beyond the call of duty in her care for me – for us – though it may well be that she provides this level of care for everyone. Other mums who have had her as their midwife have all said how good she is, so perhaps that’s the case. If so, she most definitely should get an award!
Sarah took the time to get to know me and what I wanted from my birth. She talked through my previous, not so perfect, birth experience, reassuring me that I was very likely to have a better experience second time round. She bore with me through all my scares and false alarms and talked me through my fears. As the time grew closer, she went over Rosemary’s birth again and talked about what we could do to improve the experience second time round. And she assured me that she would be there for the birth, if at all possible.
Despite all my convictions that I would be early again, we managed to get past the 37 weeks mark and eventually, we got to the actual birth. She was there when I called in with my erratic contractions. She was there when we arrived at Stroud Maternity. She knew what I wanted and what I wanted to avoid and she helped me to have the birth experience I had imagined. She delivered Eleanor and sewed me up afterwards. And then she was back the next day, to do Eleanor’s 0-day check and to tell me I could go home.
And then she was there to help me through the trauma of not being able to breastfeed properly, despite doing so for over two years with Rosemary. She was there to help stop me from giving up, to help me through mastitis, Eleanor’s weight-loss, bleeding nipples, and uterine infections. And it’s thanks to her that Eleanor’s arrival in this world was so much pleasanter and less traumatic than Rosemary’s and it’s thanks in no small part to her that Eleanor is still being breastfed (and hopefully will be for a long while yet – though maybe not two years this time!).
Thank you, Sarah.
But it’s not just Sarah. All the midwives we came across a Stroud Maternity were lovely and helpful – Sandy, Zoe, Mandy, and a few whose names and faces are just a blur, as I met them after very little sleep; and all those at the end of the phone during my many scares and false alarms and panics over breastfeeding and infections and so on.
I went home in the afternoon of Eleanor’s birth, after a pretty good night’s sleep (she was born at 01.01). I wanted to be at home with Rosemary and Chris. I wanted to watch my own TV and lie in my own bed. I thought I knew what to do, as I’d done it all before. I probably should have stayed for a few days. The atmosphere in Stroud Maternity is more one of a school dorm than a hospital ward. The food is better than most hospital food. There is a small ward and then a number of private rooms. For the night I spent there with Rosemary, I had a private room; with Eleanor I was on the ward. They are both pleasant places to be.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at a big table on the ward. You can chat to the other mums there and start practising the old eating one-handed. Or you can have your meal in your room/at your bed, if you prefer. There are tea- and coffee-making facilities available, as well as bread and a toaster, so you can get something to eat in the middle of the night when you need a booster before the next feed.
But, what makes Stroud Maternity such a wonderful place is the staff. The midwives in particular, but all the other staff, too. They will help you with breast-feeding, with changing nappies, with giving baths, with swaddling. They will provide you with a clip-on bedside crib, as well as the normal ones on wheels, and will even talk you through the safest way to co-sleep. They’ll hold your baby for a bit, while you go to the loo, or just so you can get a bit of sleep after that incredibly long night. They’ll talk you through exercises to get your stomach muscles and pelvic floor back to normal (ish) working order.
It’s possible that, if I had stayed for a few days, we wouldn’t have had the breastfeeding issues we did have. We’ll never know. Of course, because Rosemary was ill, there’s probably no way I would have decided to stay in, rather than go home to cuddle my big girl. But, even though I was only there a little more than half a day both times, I am incredibly glad to have been able to stay there and especially glad that Stroud Maternity was saved from the axe to give me that opportunity.
Thank you Stroud Maternity.