So recently I read an article from The Guardian that mentioned about women not being listened to when they said they were in labour. They were asked by the staff to ‘go home’ and return once things were moving along more.
As each of these examples show, things did move along quickly. In most cases, they were not able to have a relaxed run-up to the birth of their baby in hospital, being cared for. Instead their baby made a ‘not-so-surprising’ appearance.
At the end of the article it says the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital in London has a Nest Room; where couples who are not quite in established labour (and therefore cannot be given their own room at that point) are offered to go to The Nest to relax and see how things progress. The aim of this room is not to turn couples away but instead provide them with an interim space where they can get comfortable, feel relaxed and let things evolve.
I can’t help feel that if all the women in the article had a ‘Nest’ in their hospital they would have had a period of time in that room, but also have had the time to go back to triage and be admitted; giving birth in their own private room.
Knowing that my local hospital does not have such a room, I recently raised this at the Maternity Voices Partnership Meeting, only to be greeted with the usual NHS bureaucracy responses, which included the over-used phrases: ‘health and safety’, safeguarding’, ‘duty of care, ‘responsibility of care to them if they are on hospital grounds’ ‘this room would be inundated’. Frankly all I heard was ‘blah, blah, blah’ and excuse upon excuse – which is very typical of the NHS. How could they not see this as a positive thing?
Where is the duty of care when these women away end up having their baby in the street; in car parks, in lifts etc? How is that a better birth experience? How does that leave the mothers feel, emotionally? How can following tick boxes be over and above listening to a mother’s intuition? After all, in most cases, women don’t want to be hanging around a hospital unnecessarily. They make the decision to transfer to hospital, when it instinctively feels right; in order to receive the care and support that they need to help them through the remainder of labour and birth.
In my local hospital there is a coffee shop and a restaurant on site. When they don’t admit couples into the maternity department, the couples are free to stay on hospital grounds and head there. They are not ‘in’ they system but they are close by should they want to go back to the maternity ward. I see ‘Nests’ operating in exactly the same way.
Maternity triage staff can simply say: “You are not yet in established labour, so we are unable to admit you at this time. You have choice to go home, or if you prefer we have a quiet room just for labouring mums and there birth partners. You are not under our care, but you are able to stay there and see how things progress.” The mother can then make the choice whether she feels that she could go home, or prefer to go to this room.
Also consider the other possible variables that help her make her decision…What time of day is it? How far does she live from the hospital? Can she get home and back easily, or is she reliant on taxis or public transport? All these other external factors may well make a ‘Nest’ room feel safe and attractive.
Does this room need to be staffed? (This was one of the concerns of my local hospital). No, I don’t feel it does. I envisage a comfy room with birthing balls, armchairs/sofas, drinks machine and some gentle music playing in the background. It could have positive birth affirmations on the wall; making it a relaxed and welcoming environment. One thing it could also have is a telephone linked to the maternity triage department; so that women can update the staff on their progress and move up when the time is right.
Doesn’t this feel more ‘caring’ and ‘nurturing’?
In addition to this, there is a rise in women giving birth by using hypnobirthing techniques. These women don’t usually present the same outwardly expressions that a woman who hasn’t attended a hypnobirthing course would. Instead of replicating the ‘high drama’ expressions that TV and media portray of birth, they are calm focused and trust in their bodies; which could be a reason why some midwives don’t believe how far along in they are in labour. For these calm and focussed mums, these rooms are even more vital.
Have your say…
If you feel that all hospitals should have a ‘Nest’, have your say!
I would like to present this to those higher up the NHS ranks who are responsible for the Better Births Initiative.
Please state why you think a Nesting Room would be a good idea.
Please state if you are comfortable with the idea that the hospital only provide the room as an interim space and that you acknowledge that if this space existed that you are aware that you are not under hospital care again until you return to the Maternity Department/Birth Centre.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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