The Visit From My Health Visitor
On Tuesday, I had my introductory visit from the Health Visitor. For those that aren’t familiar with what one is, a Health Visitor is a person from the NHS who conducts regular visits from the time when baby is born to when they reach school age. To me, they’re in between a midwife and someone from social services. They’re there to make sure you as a mother are coping physically and mentally, as well as to make sure baby is ok.
They used to arrive after baby was born, but guidelines have changed so that they now visit before baby arrives so they can meet with mum and go through everything a health visitor does. I think in regards to changes, this is one of the better changes that have been made by the NHS – I think it’s a crazy idea thinking a HV’s can get a good picture of someone and whether they’re coping by meeting them for the first time at a stage when their world has been turned upside down. At least if a HV meets you before hand they’ll be able to meet you at your most calm, create somewhat of a baseline, and then be able to make a good comparison at the next visit as to whether you’re ok.
Ever since I’ve known about health visitors I couldn’t help but be skeptical about their intentions. I know they’re there just to make sure everything is ok during various stages of baby and child’s life, but at the same time I’ve heard several stories about how interfering and pushy they can be.
I guess it felt alien knowing someone like this will visit me on a regular basis even though I hadn’t been “referred” to them following a concern or because something was wrong – like you would expect from a visit from social services. It was a bizarre feeling.
The HV arrived dead on 10am – impressive (I wasn’t used to anyone from the NHS being on time). After interactions, we sat down and began. It felt like an interview at first as she was asking a lot of questions and typing away on her laptop; ticking lots of boxes, about me including; general health, family history, employment (no idea), etc. She also briefly went into S’s family history so she could create this weird family-tree like diagram. I guess this part was so that they could see who was local to me and whether I had a good support network – who knows. You know when you just trust a professional and forget to ask why they’re doing something? Yeah, that.
As expected, I got a ton of information about breastfeeding (even though we didn’t really discuss it thoroughly which I thought would happen as the NHS love breastfeeding) as well as leaflets about services local to me and vaccinations. It was certainly a well informed first meet. I also got fidget’s little red book – now things were getting real!
I’m sure these books and their variants are worldwide, but if not these books record everything about your baby from vacations received, first-times, health-checks, the lot. Looking through it, it was quite surprising to read how many vaccinations and check ups they actually have within their first year – at one stage I’ll be having appointments every two weeks!
One relief did come as a surprise when there was not one mention or question about our Donor. From the start, it was pretty obvious that S was my wife and this was our baby but I still expected 1001 questions about “the father” and I’m not going to lie, I had prepared several sentences/arguments in my head to the dozens of questions that I’d created in my head about our donors; health, history, method of insemination, etc. but all of that was pointless as nothing was mentioned whatsoever. It was strange. Am I right to be surprised by this?
Maybe it’ll get brought up later on – I can’t believe that it won’t as they’re surely going to want to know about, to be blunt, what’s inside the baby health wise, but I would have thought that if it needed to be brought up that it would have been at the very start so that they can get to know me and baby.
Nevertheless, the meeting overall went well, although I didn’t know what I expected. I imagined I would have a pompous woman in a nurses uniform talking to me about the do’s and don’t of being a mum before it had even started, but instead I got this nice, gentle lady (who still probably wouldn’t have qualms about saying what they think but, nonetheless, nice) who made me feel at ease about not only who they were but that their visits aren’t anything to be worried about.
Health Visitors sound invasive, but like they’d be very useful for families with special considerations (young mom, parents who are not sure about how to parent, etc).
Exactly. This is why I found it so odd. I wouldn’t perhaps class myself as someone in need so I felt like I was taking a service from someone who would need it more.
Hmm. I haven’t ever heard of something like that. Of course, in the US, we don’t have NHS, so that’s not something we have. We do have something called Parents as Teachers, who do pretty much the same thing, but the parents generally have to set that up and sign up for it. I know they screen more for post partum mommy blues and well being in the beginning and then developmental milestones later. Sounds like a well intentioned, but maybe intrusive program