Last week baby charity, Tommy’s, launched a new campaign called #AlwaysAsk. The purpose of the campaign is to help empower pregnant women to trust their instincts when they feel something may be wrong and speak to their midwife.
Tommy’s have teamed up with Baby Centre and Kings College London to produce some important videos and advice for women in pregnancy. An online poll run by Baby Centre showed that over 60% of pregnant women hesitated about raising concerns because they felt they were being a nuisance, and worried about wasting midwives time.
The #AlwaysAsk campaign clearly explains that you are NEVER a nuisance. If you feel that something is wrong, notice that something has changed or something just doesn’t feel quite right, you should #ALWAYSask. Midwives would rather speak to you and assess you hundreds of times, than miss a problem once.
No question is a stupid question.
Whether it’s your first pregnancy or your 5th, every pregnancy is different. Never assume or take to Dr Google when you have concerns. Your midwife is there to support you, so utilise her expertise. Ask her those questions about new symptoms, the symptoms that have suddenly disappeared, the itching, the swelling, the headaches, baby’s movements. If something is bothering you, even if you can’t put your finger on why, it matters. Only you know how you feel, and it’s important to advocate for you and your baby. Trust your instincts, #AlwayAsk your midwife.
How to be your inner champion…
Tommy’s have put together a useful guide to help you, along with a printable sheet for you to write down those all important questions you always have before an appointment but then forget to ask. You can also write down the advice your given to those questions too! I know I’m guilty of forgetting to ask questions when I feel on the spot, and certainly forgot what the professionals have told me when I’m anxious or overwhelmed. I think this is such a simple and effective tool. I’ll definitely be using it in another pregnancy.
Why I’m sharing and supporting this campaign…
I passionately share the #AlwaysAsk campaign with you because my instincts niggled at me during my first two pregnancies but I didn’t understand them enough to worry or report it. I put a lot of my thoughts and feelings down to not knowing what to expect as I’d never been pregnant before and reassured myself with ‘first time pregnancy anxiety’ excuses.
I appreciate that hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I would hate for anyone else to miss a problem because they failed to recognise and raise their concerns with health professionals. Having experienced multiple miscarriages and a stillbirth due to IUGR, I am very aware of the signs that something isn’t right. Future pregnancy instincts will be fuelled on knowledge, experience and heightened anxieties. But I want to share with you those innocent thoughts I missed as instincts, not to scare you, but to help empower you to just ASK.
My miscarriage instincts…
My first pregnancy ended in a missed miscarriage. At around 10 weeks, I noticed that my pregnancy symptoms completely disappeared overnight. Sore boobs, morning sickness, all gone like a switch had been flipped. When talking to people about being pregnant, I’d innocently say “my symptoms have gone, I don’t know if this is a good thing or not”. Although I acknowledged something had changed, I didn’t recognise that this was actually my instinct telling me something was wrong. I didn’t know that this could mean I’d miscarried. In fact it never occurred to me that miscarriage would happen. I just put it down to coming to the end of my first trimester, as all the Dr Google pregnancy pages and experts say your symptoms will start to settle around 12-14 weeks. I assumed I must have been lucky.
At 11 weeks, I started spotting. The alarms bells kicked in immediately and I called the assessment unit. They arranged for me to have a scan a couple of days later. It was here we found out our first little Bean had died, at 8 1/2 weeks. I know I couldn’t have changed the outcome of this pregnancy, but if I had recognised and trusted my instincts when I first noticed a change and called the midwife, the miscarriage could have been picked up sooner.
My stillbirth instincts…
With Guy, as part of general pregnancy chat people kept asking me if I had felt any movements or kicks and sharing how exciting those first flutters are. I hadn’t really noticed any movements but as this was the first time I’d been 14 weeks+ into a pregnancy, I didn’t know what kicks felt like and figured I probably wouldn’t feel them until much later. As the weeks went on and we approached our 20 week scan, I still hadn’t felt any real movements, but I’d seen Guy wriggling away on our scan and being told he was measuring small, I figured this was why I couldn’t feel him. I reasoned he was too little to pack a powerful kick just yet.
From 20-23 weeks I felt my bump hadn’t really grown, and commented on this a few times to family and friends. Again, those niggling instincts were there, I voiced them but didn’t recognise them as instincts. Everyone, myself included put it down to Guy being small, and the way he was lay might be making my bump appear to not grow.
I now know that this is because Guy was severely growth restricted and very sick. My bump wasn’t growing because my baby had stopped growing. I wasn’t feeling any movements because my baby wasn’t moving, he was too poorly and reserving his energy to simply stay alive.
There will always be ‘what ifs?’ despite what I know. Guy’s growth restriction was picked up at his 20 week scan and we were referred as soon as we could be to the placenta clinic. But what if I’d spoken to a midwife of Dr in those 3 weeks about my bump not growing? What if I’d voiced my concerns that I still hadn’t felt any real movements between 20-23 weeks? What if I had raised these questions and worries sooner and it had lead me to get to the placenta clinic earlier? It wouldn’t have done any harm to have asked a professional. It wouldn’t have made the outcome any worse now would it?
While I could question over and over whether I could have saved Guy, I know the outcome of his pregnancy would be the same. His placenta hadn’t developed properly from the start and would have failed him regardless. However, my instincts were right. I identified that something wasn’t right and I should have just asked the midwife.
So, I encourage all pregnant women to empower themselves with the message from this campaign. Be the best advocate for yourself and your baby. A change in symptoms or a change in baby’s movements could mean that there is a complication that could put you and your baby at risk.
- ALWAYS ask if you feel like something isn’t right or has changed
- No question is a stupid question if you don’t know the answer and have concerns.
- You are NOT wasting anybodies time
- You are NOT a nuisance
- Be your own inner champion!