A-Z

Amanda

Age at interview: 35
Brief Outline: Amanda was very pleased with the antenatal care she received. However, she felt that she was rushed into making decision after she gave birth. She thinks health staff should receive more training on dealing with people with learning disabilities.
Background: Amanda and her partner, Mitchell, have a daughter, Ruby.

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Amanda was very happy with the antenatal support she received. A couple of months into her pregnancy, she started meeting up with the Team Around the Family (TAF), which included her partner’s mother, her support worker, social worker, health visitor, the community midwife, herself and her partner. Together, they supported her in making decisions around giving birth. She also took part in a variety of antenatal classes, and she was provided a booklet with practical information from Sure Start. All in all, Amanda feels that she received very good support, and there is nothing she would change about it.

However, all this changed after she gave birth to her daughter. Amanda felt that she was rushed into having a contraceptive injection. She also thought she wasn’t given many options with regards to feeding her daughter. Because she didn’t express milk, she couldn’t breastfeed her child. Still, she felt that the midwives were too quick to dismiss her suggestion to try and do both breastfeeding and bottle feeding.

Furthermore, a midwife accused her of shaking her daughter, which, Amanda feels, led to more social service inspections. By the end, Amanda’s partner was “fed up” because he felt that they had to “keep proving [themselves] to children’s social services”. Both of them agree that health services could be improved if the staff received more training on how to communicate with people with learning disabilities.

Amanda felt more “confident” when she was “out in the community again”. She continued with the TAF meetings, had a community midwife visiting her almost every day, and she also received help from a community healthcare assistant who showed her how to deal with the practicalities, such as bathing her child.
 

Amanda describes how she and her partner “couldn’t believe it” when they found out she was pregnant.

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Can you remember how you felt when you found out you were pregnant?

I had to go to the doctor’s to just double-check it. And I was about 5 weeks, 6 weeks gone. And we, we couldn’t believe it. We just like started getting baby stuff in all ready, like pushchair and car seat and things like that. And then when we went for our first scan we were actually amazed at how amazing it was and how difficult it was to see the babies head and, and everything like that. But then when we went for the second scan you could see the baby a lot clearer. I wanted a boy but Mitchell wanted a girl. So I’m pleased that he’s got a girl and I love her to bits. I wouldn’t change her for the world really. We were so pleased really. But they were, they were concerned about my BMI, which was quite high for my height and weight. So, but I did have a good support team around us.
 

Amanda has diaomorphine and an epidural and says “it wasn’t the easiest of labours”

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Okay. [Mitchell] works away a lot [and we live in a block of flats]. And I remember it was on a Thursday a few days before, when it was raining and thunder and lightning. And we all had to go downstairs because the fire alarms went off, which is all connected to the intercom. And we could smell smoke, and the house next door, the chimney got struck by lightning. And I think then on the Sunday night I started about quarter to 3 Mon-, early Monday morning I found a spot of blood. And I had to get [Mitchell] to double-check because I didn’t have my glasses on. We phoned up the hospital. There’s only one hospital on the whole of the [island]. We got there for 3 o’clock. Went by taxi. And they kept me in until about half 6, 7 o’clock in the morning. And they said everything was fine but told [Mitchell] to keep an eye on, on everything. And she was a lovely student midwife. She looked after me, everything. Then it took a couple of hours to get back home. And then I laid down and the pain started again. And while [Mitchell] was working from home he had to write down how often the pains kept coming. So by 1 o’cl-, by half past 1 I was back in hospital again. And [Mitchell] said that because obviously we don’t drive ourselves and he didn’t want to be paying too much taxi fare every time, for me to stay in the hospital. And the midwives agreed. So I stayed in the hospital. Kept getting told off because I was shouting, screaming, [laugh] and I didn’t know what to do. But I had my own room, which is what I’d requested in my book.

And Tuesday, they put me on diamorphine. And then I started getting all funny and a bit like a zombie “ooh”. And then one of the doctors actually came and checked me and I was 1 centimetre dilated. So what they then decided after they gave me some more diamorphine was to put me straight into labour, cos I was in so much pain, to go straight into labour. I did want a water birth, but that wasn’t obviously able to happen. So I had to have an epidural in my back [baby crying]. And so they gave me some epidural and I was getting really, I was getting really weird. Cos I said, “Bob the Builder. Can you fix it.”[Laugh]. And everybody else laughed apart from the anaesthetist. So I was in labour from 2 o’clock on the Tuesday 23rd of September and I gave birth to [Ruby] on the 24th of September. She weighed 7 pound. So she was very small. And it wasn’t easy of, easiest labours. And because I hadn’t eaten or really drank anything, I was dehydrated quite a lot. So they had to keep putting epidural in me, [baby crying] every, every couple of hours. And then they gave me some salt water. She came into the world and she was a beautiful little baby. 

But, yeah, but for [Mitchell], he, he saw this beautiful little creature coming out. And it was just so amazing. And one of the things that they did do was they actually gave her straight to me, after he cut the cord they gave her straight to me. Put me, put her on there so she could smell you and everything. Cos you’re meant to cuddle the baby or something. One of the things we got told in one of the sessions was you’re not allowed to video the baby. We didn’t obviously. But we took pictures. And [Mitchell] took a picture of [Ruby] with gram-, his mum 7 minutes after she came out of me. And she was just such a beautiful, amazing little creature. And we were, [Mitchell] was actually crying his eyes out. And he,  and if you ask him what, what the cord felt like, he will tell you it felt, it felt like, he thought it was like, was like elasticated or whatever. And I said to the midwife, “He’s cutting it. He’s got no choice.” [Laugh]. So obviously I don’t remember what I was saying, but obviously he does. So there are things that I still don’t remember [laugh].
 

Amanda had community midwives coming daily for the first few weeks, then Team around the Family support.

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And since then things have changed at home. I’m more happier and I love my daughter to bits. But the children’s social worker came out on the Friday saw her a few times. [Mitchell’s] mum was here cos she needed to be here to support me and [Mitchell]. And my support worker was here. And, and what the outcome of that was from that Monday when, and the named midwife suggested that I need to have community midwives practically every day for the next few weeks. And it was the same community midwives who I had before, but different ones. I had the healthcare assistant, who would come out once or twice a week to help me or show me how to bath the baby.

And I felt more confident because I was out in the community again. And I didn’t feel pressurised, no, nothing. The midwives weren’t worried [which was good]. The children’s social worker suggested that I continue having these TAF meetings, which I said before was Team Around the Family. And we’ve only just recently had the last meeting of it a couple of weeks ago. And we’re not having any more. So I don’t need to prove myself any more. Sure Start centre which has now been took over by [charity], are really really good. They help me. I go to Let’s Play on a Wednesday morning. I do a lot of things with my support worker and my daughter in the week. I’ve just recently started working at the weekend, to have a bit of time to myself, and [Mitchell] to see his daughter cos he works in the week quite a lot. And, and I think to myself that I don’t have to prove anything anymore [to anyone].
 

Amanda wishes the background to the safeguarding alert had been explained to her so she understood it better.

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I think it might have been to do with because we’ve both got disabilities. And, but when we were, when we were explained it to by the midwi-, by one of the health visitors, we understood a little bit more. And it was at the time that Baby P had been beaten or whatever. And I think if we were given, if they made us understand properly, we would have understood from the beginning if they told us the reasons why. And they didn’t. They just obviously assumed obviously. And we know we’ve had to, we’ve had, for the last 8 months we’ve had to prove ourselves really. And we shouldn’t have had to. The children’s social worker never turned up to any of the TAF meetings. So it was handed over to the person at Sure Start to take over the TAF meetings. So we all agreed that we don’t need to have any more, any more now. Because [Ruby’s] coming up to nearly a year in September and if they had any more worries they would have let children’s services know by now. 
 

Amanda met the Team Around the Family Team when she was a few months pregnant.

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And you had this, the Team Around the Family. At what point did that, did you meet them?

The first one I think when I was a few months in to my pregnancy. I’m not sure how many months it was. But it might have been 5, 6 months maybe. That’s when the health visitor started to come in as well. And they were really, really helpful. What my, what my Sure Start did do was they actually gave us this easy-read booklet, this easy-read file of from 0 to 3. About, you know, how to bottle-feed, how you change the nappy and, and things like that. And we found that really, really useful. And it’s the only book that they’ve got so they, actually done copies for us. And I’ve still got that. It seems to be really useful. But once you get the knack of things, you know how to do it and you don’t need anything else [laugh].
 

Amanda describes when a midwife raised a safeguarding alert about her.

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Yes, so on the Sunday night because my daughter, wasn’t very well with upset stomach from having two lots of 60 mil of milk, one of the only midwife that was on that night had written in my book that I was going to shake my baby. So then on the Monday morning, the named midwife who worked between children’s services and the midwifery in the hospital put in for my daughter to have a children’s social worker *which they had to get* because of safeguarding. And, I turned round to them and I said there was no way in heaven or hell would I ever harm my daughter. [I told the named midwife she had to talk to my support worker who was coming at lunchtime.]
 

More training in learning disability is needed and “then you’ll do fine”, says Amanda.

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Is there anything you’d, is there anything you’d say if you, to any health, to a midwife watching this?

Yeah. Make sure you’ve had learning disability training so you know how to handle delicately people with learning disabilities. Because if they, if they’ve had problems you don’t know about and you do something wrong, you could be in trouble. So make sure you get all the facts about that person and you’ve had the proper necessary training round learning disability. Then you’ll do fine.
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