How many other women? | Blog

When you fall pregnant for the first time you are blind. You have no idea what is right, what is wrong, what your options are, when to speak up...the list is endless and as you have never had a baby before therefore you can feel lost. You listen to those around you for advice and support. Your mum, midwives, healthcare professionals, friends. But when it come to what you feel you are ''allowed' to do you listen to your midwives and the doctors as you think that is the best thing to do. I mean, if is a health care professional telling you what to do so it must be right?


When I had Pickle 3 years ago I listened to everything I was told. I was told I was told my BMI was too high to have a water birth so I nodded along and wiped my much longer for water birth out of my mind because I was told I was too fat to have it. I was told I needed to have an epidural because I was being induced, therefore I wouldn't be able to cope with the pain and that would raise my already elevated blood pressure. I nodded, took the epidural and did what I was told. Why wouldn't I? This was my first baby and this was what I was being told to do by people who I thought knew best. As they were saying it, I obviously didn't have a choice did I?


Throughout this pregnancy I have been learning and practising hypnobirthing (thanks to the amazing team at Do it Like a Mother) and I have decided that I would like to stay as mobile as possible during my labour, use water as pain relief and try to avoid too much medical intervention if possible. By that I mean that I don't really wanted to be hooked up to 6 different monitors like I was last time and I really want to avoid an epidural if I can. Now I am not naïve. I have done my research and am also fully aware that sometimes nature takes it's course and things don't go to plan. I know that things could go wrong and I could end up having forceps or an epidural or even a C-Section. Ultimately the health of my baby and me is the most important thing BUT at present everything is perfect. My blood pressure is great, baby is a perfect size, I am in good health, keeping active and having no issues whatsoever APART from having a high BMI that I had when I started my pregnancy. Due to this I thought I would start thinking about having a water birth and possibly having a home water birth to allow me to stay as relaxed and calm as possible to hopefully give me a quicker, less painful labour than last time.

I have spoken to 5 different healthcare professionals in the last 2 days. The first told me point blank I wouldn't be allowed a water birth and couldn't sign a facilitating women's choices form to request one. Apparently, health and safety would mean the staff wouldn't be able to get me out of the water if I collapsed and there would be no point in signing a form because it would be ignored. The next 3 told me I could have a water birth and that there would be no reason I couldn't. One of these professionals was my consultant and another was the head of midwifery at my local hospital. They both said I could sign the form and that there would be no health and safety risk as the staff are well trained to cope in all instances. The final person said that I could request a home birth but she wouldn't be happy attending to me at home because it would be too risky but ultimately someone would have to come out if I went down that route. She also explained that I could request a water birth and sign a form but once again I could be too risky for the staff as I collapsed in the pool they wouldn't be able to get me out so therefore she wouldn't recommend it.

There are so many things wrong with what I have had to face in the past 2 days. Firstly, how can so many different people who all abide by the same set of rules, regulations and guidelines say such different things? Where I work, we have a set of rules and policies that we follow. You don't get a different service from one branch or store to another. The rules that we follow are uniform across the whole company. Surely this should be the same within the NHS. Women CAN sign a facilitating women's choices form...that is a FACT! Why was I told I couldn't? Why was I told that someone wouldn't be happy with me having a home birth and wouldn't recommend me doing so? Would we accept it if we went into a clothes shop and had the shop assistant say 'sorry but you can't buy that top' or 'sorry that top won't look right on you because your a size 18'? NO!! If you want the top then you buy the top and it is your choice and your right to do so! How many other women have been told no and not questioned it as they thought the same as I did with my first baby? I thought that because I was being told it by someone from the NHS then it has to be gospel and I couldn't possibly question it. How is that right?!?!?!

Secondly, how can women be treated so different yet pigeon holed so easily (huge oxymoron there I know but bare with). I have a friend who is at the same point in her pregnancy as me. She started this process .5 of a percent lower on her BMI score so therefore hasn't been subjected to the same scrutiny as me. She has actually put on THE SAME AMOUNT of weight as me in her pregnancy but yet she has been told that all birthing options are open to her and that in fact she should enjoy pregnancy and not to worry about weight. I, on the other hand, am being penalised and having my options reduced massively just because I started this process slightly heavier than my friend. My friend and I are the same body shape, same clothing size, the same in our activity level yet I am slightly heavier than her. THIS MAKES NO SENSE!!! Why am I not being given the same rights as her? Why are my wishes around birth any less important than hers? We are pretty much the same yet treated so differently. Just because my BMI is .5% higher than the 'limit' I am instantly treated like someone who can't move around or get in or out of a bath! It's absurd! Women are different and their needs differ from woman to woman. Women cannot be pigeon holed and surely options should be open to discussion for all women and should be considered based on their own needs and situation.

Finally, I am trying to help. We see on a daily basis how the NHS is understaffed, how hospitals are full to breaking point, how there isn't enough money for trusts to cope... I am happy to birth at home, if I can, with as little medical intervention as possible. I don't want to be strapped to a bed in hospital, taking up NHS resources and being given expensive medicine and treatments. If I needed it then I would go to the hospital and get help as the staff previously when I had our son were fantastic BUT if I don't need to be in hospital then why should I?!?! Give that bed to someone who seriously needs it. Not to me just because I 'might' have an issue. If an issue arises then we are 5 minutes away. Why waste money and resource on me if it isn't necessary and if I don't want it??

The thing that makes me most angry about this whole situation is a question that I can't stop from entering my mind.

How many other women?

How many other women have had to fight for their basic rights when it comes to birth? How many other women have been misinformed and just nodded along? How many other women have not expressed their wishes for their births because they are supressed into think it 'isn't allowed'?

Everything about this is wrong!! It feels like something is broken somewhere and I don't know where. But what I do know is this experience has ignited a fire under me to challenge and get change. I will fight for my birth and I will fight for all the other women who are supressed, pigeon holed and misinformed!

Watch this space. 


  1. The inconsistency is awful in the NHS. It varies from trust to trust and consultant to consultant. If you have it written clearly in your notes from the obstetrician and head of midwifery that it's clear for a water birth then they have to go with it on the day. If you were a lot higher over the BMI limit I'd say no it isn't safe but you are borderline so can't see an issue. Fight your corner!

  2. In my previous pregnancy I blogged about my treatment with high BMI and GD. It was my third pregnancy. I’d had no other issues during the previous two, and a home Birth with my second. But I was threatened with social services during my third pregnancy because I declined Consultant Led Care. Social services! Fortunately - like you - I was experienced. I knew how I ought to be treated, and I was ready to fight for it. With the help of AIMS and their barrister, I made a complaint which was upheld.
    Now on my fourth pregnancy, I have yet again declined consultant care and growth scans, unless I feel them necessary. I’ve not had anything like the treatment I received last time, but there has still been a massive pressure. This is my last baby and I’ve felt scared and anxious for the whole time. Not how it ought to be.

  3. This is so awful. I think that BMI is such a flawed way to look at people, it fails to take in to consideration a huge range of things. I can't believe that there is such a huge range of conflicting advice/guidance women are being given.

  4. It's really not on in this day and age that anyone should be treated like this. It's just not right for you to be spoken to like that. Your wishes are your wishes. That's great that you live so close anyway. Good luck. I hope you can make a change

  5. I was fairly happy with my care during pregnancy and birth, but found the after care terrible. We had a baby with colic, who screamed all day and never slept, and were at the end of our tether. But there were huge inconsistencies in what we were told - a different midwife at every post natal visit (I think we saw six different ones in one week) and each told us something different! I had my second baby in Germany, with the same midwife throughout pregnancy and post natal care, and it was such a huge difference.

  6. I had mine at 43 and 45 so didn't get much say at all and, to be honest, I didn't mind all that much. Both were c-sections - one emergency and one elective. I think that after the first scan you may as well resign yourself to the fact that the NHS is in charge and their primary concern is for the baby, not you. I'm not saying that's right but sometimes it's just easier and far less stressful to let yourself be led a little. We did think about a water birth but the only pain relief would have been gas and air and, in the event of a c-section, it would have been an ambulance trip across Cardiff to the Heath Hospital anyway - where the operating theatres, consultants and drugs are.

  7. I guess I was quite lucky with the care I received - I never felt too hard done by. I do know that the level of care is hugely inconsistent though so raising this is very important.

  8. I'm so sorry you're under this stress, and their comcerns all seem so far-fetched. I too would be concerned that this may be happening to other women.

  9. I know so many women who didnt get the birth or antenatal care they wanted due to being slightly under or over on certain guidelines. It must be very frustrating!

  10. I do agree that you should have the birth they want, but it's all based on facts and figures isn't it. Not saying that's right though. They need to cover themselves all the time because if something went wrong people sue them. I just went with what I was told my first pregnancy when I was poorly, but I did put my foot down with my twins for my 2nd pregnancy. You are more sure of yourself 2nd time around