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Maternity care and the medical world

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MATERNITY CARE: Kiran is finding the British maternity system quite different to what she experienced in New Zealand.

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Today, on a little computer screen in a windowless room, I saw my baby kicking. I could barely contain my relief. The sonographer pointed out the "good strong heartbeat". I wondered if she could hear my own heart racing at a million miles an hour. There it was, my second baby, wriggling around.

My maternity care journey in London has begun, and I can already see it's going to be very, very different from my first pregnancy. Milin was born at Wellington Hospital at the end of 2011. The corridors were filled with natural light, the new birthing rooms were modern and spacious, the midwives were amazing.

My experience of being pregnant in Wellington was overwhelmingly positive. I didn't have an uncomplicated pregnancy, and developed pre-eclampsia before Milin was born by emergency c-section at 38 weeks. But the numerous sonographers, midwives, doctors and consultants that we saw along the way always reassured me. I always felt in safe hands, and like everyone knew exactly what they were doing. My options were always explained to me, and I never felt like I was being rushed through some kind of system.

Since our little family moved to London nearly four weeks ago, I have been trying to play catch up with getting booked in to have baby number two on this side of the world. And despite my GP asking the hospital for an urgent appointment for me three weeks ago, I've only just had my first hospital appointment. First thoughts? Things are not quite as organised here as they are in NZ.

For some reason, despite me being 18 weeks and already having had a combined screening test at 12 weeks in Wellington, this is what I ended up being booked in for. A rather confused sonographer told me that I didn't need to have the test again, and she wasn't sure why I'd been given an appointment for a scan. I had a brief chat with a midwife who told me to come back on Saturday when my full medical history would finally be taken and I'd be booked into the system. Well that's a relief. Oh, and I was also interviewed by a woman who wants to see my passport to prove that I'm British and entitled to have a baby here.

So, I went home, yet to explain to a midwife that I'm worried about developing pre-eclampsia again, that I'm worried about the prospect of more growth scans because we had so many last time, that I'm worried about having a two vessel cord again and what that could mean for the baby, and that I'm worried that I haven't yet felt my baby move. In fact, the longest conversation I had with anyone was about where I was born, where I was on the electoral role and where I was "normally resident".

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Being pregnant, I had forgotten until now, can be incredibly stressful. But it doesn't need to be made more so by things like medical appointments and formalities. Towards the end of my last pregnancy, when my blood pressure had sky-rocketed, I was told rather sternly to put my feet up and stop worrying.. It was an important piece of advice, but not one that was always easy to follow.

I will see a midwife, finally, here in London on Saturday. She or he will apparently take my full medical history, do some blood tests, book me in for a 20-week scan and explain how it all works over here. Between now and then, I'm going to keep in my mind that image of a small baby wriggling around. The sonographer explained that I might not be able to feel the kicks because they are being cushioned by my placenta, which is at the front of my uterus or in the anterior position. That's ok though, because today I saw a tiny heart beating, a little spine moving, a strong arm punching, and two legs kicking. Just like the first time, it was magic.

What were your experiences of maternity care, and do you agree that the tests and appointments that come with being pregnant can be stressful?

Follow Kiran and her little family's big adventure in London on twitter @kiranchug

- © Fairfax NZ News

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