Louise Emma Clarke books a series of home midwife visits from Healthbay Polyclinic in the midst of sleepless nights, dirty nappies, and huge under-eye circles…
I gave birth to my first baby back in April 2012. On my final day in the hospital, my obstetrician visited to discharge me, leaving with the words ‘see you in five weeks for a check-up’. I was staggered that it would be that long until my progress was checked – and when I found out that my precious newborn would also be cast out after his initial hospital check too, I felt lost and abandoned.
We got home and the baby stopped latching (breastfeeding halted right there and then). My stitches hurt for longer than I thought normal, but I didn’t know where to turn. And looking back at photographs, my newborn sported a worrying yellow hue – but with no appointments to keep an eye on him, it went completely unnoticed.
It took us a good few weeks to get ourselves sorted, booking into the baby clinic at Healthbay Polyclinic. We visited regularly and I finally felt supported – but after finding out that we could have booked home visits from a Western-trained midwife in those overwhelming early days, I made a promise to myself that I would be better prepared when number two arrived.
Fast-forward two years and here we are again with our hearts captured by a beautiful, time-consuming, wrinkled little newborn. And while we were still in hospital getting to know each other, I kept my promise and contacted Healthbay Polyclinic from my hospital bed to ensure we had help from the very start. After that initial enquiry, I received a phone call from a midwife called Cynthia, who arranged to come and visit us at home a few days later for the first of three scheduled visits.
On the day of our first visit, the door knocked at the very minute Cynthia was due, making her one of the first people to visit our apartment without calling for further directions (a headache I didn’t need with a four-day old). Her punctuality was very welcome indeed – and if she was shocked by my disheveled appearance, she hid it extremely well (think pyjamas, unwashed hair, and dark panda-like under-eye circles).
Cynthia was exceptionally warm, calm and understanding. As we sat down on my sofa and started chatting, she cooed over baby Wilfred and asked me questions about the birth. Having given up on breastfeeding at day five with my first son, I was keen to get advice and tips to stay on track. Right on cue, Wilfred woke and asked for milk – and as I began to feed, Cynthia helped to correct the latch, advised on the best positions for feeding, and showed me how to maximize the time he spent at the breast. I had been finding feeding painful, but with his latch corrected, it suddenly became nearly painless. This was a big relief!
After feeding, it was time to weigh him – and Cynthia showed concern that he had dropped to under 10% of his birth weight. He was also suffering from jaundice and she advised us to top up each feed with a 30ml bottle (with expressed milk or formula). I was disappointed to introduce a bottle so early, but relieved to be given the advice early enough to correct the problem – had we waited until his check at the hospital (scheduled for 2.5 weeks after his birth), we may have had a much bigger problem on our hands.
We then discussed my progress – and satisfied that I was healing well, Cynthia promised to check in with us the next day and return a few days later for her second visit. Shortly after the visit, Cynthia emailed to reiterate the advice – and as promised, a phone call followed the next day to check how we were doing.
At our second visit, Cynthia was pleased to see an improvement to the jaundice, but was still concerned about his weight loss so suggested we upped the bottle top-ups to 45ml. And at our third visit, when Wilfred was 11 days old, we were advised to keep these top-ups going to speed up his weight gain. By this point, I was feeling a little more human (pyjamas no longer being the daytime outfit of choice) and I felt ready to drive to the clinic for future appointments. If we were struggling, however, it was reassuring to know that we could buy another set of visits until we were back on our feet.
I am so impressed and wholeheartedly recommend the service. Home visits may come with a price tag, but I felt supported and reassured; feelings worth their weight in gold in those hazy, exhausting, but wonderful newborn days.
Healthbay Polyclinic home visits cost Dhs390 for one visit or Dhs1100 for a package of three. Call 04 348 7140 to book or visit www.healthbayclinic.com.