So I have an appointment tomorrow that I am dreading. I am going to our local hospital for an iron infusion. The only times I have been hooked up to a drip have been during my labours so my associations are not positive. In fact they are downright traumatic.
Now – whenever I mention something like this someone suggests that I pretend that I have a client in a similar situation and tell myself what I would tell her.
So I have decided to go through the process as I would recommend to a client.
Make sure that you have a support person to come with you. And make sure that they know WHY you need them. Do you need them to say things for you? To refer to a plan? To distract you? To hold your hand? Get clear on what your support person is there for.
I’m taking my partner. He’s not terribly knowledgeable, but I know that he will refer me and the midwife to my plan as needed and he has a good understanding of where the trauma comes from. I don’t need to worry about him brushing it off as nothing important.
If you don’t have a partner you might like to look at taking a friend or relative, hiring a doula (many will offer to support you as a one off appointment if you don’t want / need them for longer term support) or contact a local maternity consumer representative.
Learn all that you can about the procedure or the expectations of the appointment. Where do you have to go? Will there be things that you need to do beforehand to prepare? Who will you be seeing? What happens during the procedure?
I have read state guidelines on iron infusions. I have asked questions of my GP when he made the referral. I have spoken to the midwife who did my booking about what I can expect. I have also spoken to other women about their experiences both with iron infusion and, just generally, with attending the day pregnancy unit.
Once you know what the process is you can start to make some plans!
Just as I believe that birth plans are vital to a positive birth experience, I also believe that “meeting plans” or “procedure plans” are vital to a positive experience. Just as with a birth plan I suggest that you have a goal and that you also have a list of what you need in order to feel good about the experience.
For my iron infusion my goal is to get through the entire process without having a panic attack. At the end I want to feel strong and empowered and like I made a great decision to get it done. I also want to feel confident about the prospect of attending the hospital again if needed.
My “plan” is actually really quite basic. It will be handwritten in my notebook and my partner will have a read through it before we go in and we will discuss it.
At this stage my plan is:
- Cannula to be placed in the back of my left hand. NOT in my wrist under any circumstances.
- Drip equipment to be placed out of my direct sight, if possible, and midwife to communicate with me whenever it needs to be altered / fiddled with.
- Procedure to be done while sitting. Aside from the emotional trauma I associate with hospital beds I am experiencing severe pain when I lie on my back. I would like to be able to walk once the procedure is done!
- I understand that baby needs to be monitored at various points in time. Palpation to be kept to a minimum and done through clothing if possible. Monitoring to be done while sitting or semi-reclined in chair. Please speak to me about every aspect of the procedures before they are done. Yes I have had monitoring done in previous pregnancies and know what to expect, but I still need to be offered the chance to actively consent (or not) to each individual part of the process. Consent is not to be implied at any stage.
Plans don’t have to be long. They don’t even have to be written! But it is useful to know what you want and to make sure that your care provider and support people know what you want to get out of a procedure or appointment.
When you arrive at your appointment let your care provider know that you are feeling nervous and that you have experienced trauma in the past. Let them know that you have a few things that you would like to talk through before beginning.
Triggers and traumas are VERY unique. Your care provider may never have encountered someone who has experienced your specific circumstances. And even if they have…they won’t know that YOU have experienced these things unless you tell them.
Talking about trauma can be tough. And in a society where women are told to just be quiet and obey the midwife or doctor, asking for specific things to help you reduce trauma can also be really tough.
But your midwife or doctor should have a good understanding of trauma in general. And also of the importance of reducing trauma in women throughout their time in the maternity care system. If the care provider that you are allocated belittles your trauma and / or your plan or makes you feel uncomfortable PLEASE ask to speak to the supervisor so that you can be allocated someone better suited to your needs.
And keep communicating throughout the procedure. If something is sparking a flashback, let someone know. If you need a little bit of time to process one part of the procedure before moving on, please speak up.
Most midwives and doctors want you to have a positive experience and you will generally find that if you speak up they will do what they can to accommodate your wishes. And if they can’t accommodate your wishes, you still have options! You can reschedule the appointment while you seek additional information and / or support or you may decide to seek a different care option.
OWN YOUR DECISION
At the end of the day, it is YOUR decision and yours alone whether to have this appointment / procedure done.
I could whinge and whine about how I don’t want to go and act like a hostile hostage. But in reality I know that I have other options. I could choose different iron treatments. I could choose to ignore it. I could look into going privately.
But I honestly feel that this is the best option for me. It’s not an awesome option (seriously – who actually WANTS to go in and be hooked up to a drip for an hour or so on a Friday morning?!?!), but it is MY decision.
If you don’t feel that the procedure or appointment is best for you then you are under no obligation to go to it!
My body, my decision, my responsibility.
I would love to hear YOUR top tips for preparing for appointments / procedures that you have experienced trauma around? What makes it easier for you?
If you would like some support to put in place your own plans for meeting and procedures please feel free to get in touch. I provide personalised pregnancy planning support and, if you are in Far North Qld, I can also support you in person.