How would I manage pregnancy without the NHS?

 

I’m in the middle of my second pregnancy. It’s reminding me how many worries there can be, but also how much help I have to set my mind at rest.

Step one: taking the test.

Really, we know for weeks before telling anybody. My husband and I hold back emotionally, just in case – things can go wrong. Choosing a morning when we’re both around, the stick is unceremoniously peed upon and, as expected, our second born is on the horizon. But perhaps it was a lingering caution that kept me from booking an appointment to confirm it.

Step two: visiting the midwife

A creeping excitement that it’s been almost twelve weeks by my estimations. Sick, but finally up and out of bed, I visit the GP. Yes, our second born is on the way!

I see the midwife for the first time at the turn of the New Year. Reams of data about my medical history are collected. I’ve met the midwife and am now entered into an automated process of booking a scan. I go home clutching that tell-tale blue folder, a mine of information about the nine months (and a bit more) ahead. Still I consult the web every spare few moments for titbits of information on development; how many centimetres and what vegetable or  fruit the baby is nearly the size of. It’s familiar, and I really do take the reliable NHS site and resources for granted.

I’ve read about Chasing Zero, and my mind wanders to what happens in other places, like the Malawian countryside. Without help, most women there will know next to nothing about what’s going on in their bodies at this stage. When I think of all the questions and worries I have and how reassured I am by these sources of information, I really see the value of the Mother Buddy programme. A Mother Buddy gives expectant mums support, advice and information, and encourages them to start going for antenatal checks.

Step three: the ultrasound

We parents do hear our share of scare stories. But after seeing that perfectly-formed human shape wriggling, kicking and stretching after only twelve weeks, my fears are finally largely allayed. I don’t know that child or their full medical state but now I’ve had a little glimpse. Mercifully, it’s good news for us: that little sprout is flourishing somehow, into our son or daughter. Happy days!

It’s a baby! Why does that surprise me? I can now really look forward to meeting them. Birthing centre, home birth or the security of hospital – I know that I have options that so many women in the world don’t have. In remote parts of the world, being able to give birth at a medical facility can be the difference between life and death.

Step four: the bump and the scan

The bump is really growing now, outgrowing your wardrobe is one piece of evidence! I can hardly wait for the 20-week scan.

I remember it first time around – it put me in awe in a way that nothing else ever really has. How can you possibly check the position of kidneys in there, and the hemispheres of the brain? Phenomenal.

And it’s phenomenal again the second time around. The niggling doubts are put aside when all looks well. It strikes me as amazing that all that’s asked for in return for this unforgettable experience is a voluntary donation, not even mentioned by the sonographer.

I’m reminded of the beauties of what we get from the UK health service, flawed as it is in places. I really can’t imagine getting through pregnancy without all this help and care. It inspires me to do what I can to share the gift of antenatal care with another woman who wouldn’t otherwise get it. I decide to twin my pregnancy with a woman in a remote village in Malawi, so that she can be visited by a Mother Buddy, get advice and support and enjoy her pregnancy with her worries put to rest, like me.

You can twin your pregnancy – or a friend’s – and give another woman the support and care that we all need during pregnancy. Find out more here.

Blog by Nicholette, a mum from the UK who is currently expecting her second child.

Image: Dr. Wolfgang Moroder.

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