When previously we went to the initial meeting with the health visitor, it was perhaps a mixed experience. But after birth, you actually get a proper visitor coming around to your house. I must admit I had decent expectations of the visit, after all, health visitors are the primary port of call for baby’s health concerns for the next five years, and an early days visit to your home seemed like a good way to go.
The first attempt at a visit didn’t work out; mum was still in hospital and apparently dad + baby wasn’t worth checking in on. So today we finally had the rescheduled appointment. What. A. Waste. Of. Time. Other than one questionnaire and an abrupt question as to mum’s health, there was nothing that couldn’t have been dealt with last week with just myself and the baby. There was an avalanche of paper thrust at us, a barrage of quick-fire questions so boxes could be ticked. The only thing of any use whatsoever was weighing the baby, which is due to be done tomorrow by the midwife anyway. The mental health and postnatal depression questions were handled with all the delicacy and empathy of a bull in a china shop.
“Here fill in this questionnaire as to whether you’ve thought about self-harming, while I write some other notes”
That should not be the extent of mental health provision for an issue that affects up to 20% of women and 10% of dads in the UK. And if that questionnaire is the way they’ve come up with those statistics, I’d probably say that the real numbers are much higher.
Overall, that first encounter with the health visitor proper was the most bureaucratic experience of my life; and I’ve dealt with the HMRC. This should not be the full extent of postpartum care for parents and young children.