'First-time mums don't know what is normal - and don't have the vocabulary to ask'
Published 08/11/2016 | 02:30
Blathnaid Cox, who gave birth to her son Darragh six months ago by caesarean section, said she was given little advance advice about the procedure by doctors or nurses.
The first-time mother from Crumlin in Dublin said Darragh was a breech baby so there was a strong likelihood he would have to be delivered surgically.
"I went into labour at 37-and a-half-weeks," she said.
She ended up having an emergency caesarean section.
"Nobody asked me, 'How was the caesarean section for you?'," she said.
"The main concern was around the wound but there is a huge emotional side to it too and it could have been frightening."
Blathnaid (31) was among the women studied by the School of Nursing and Midwifery in Trinity College as part of research on the litany of hidden health problems faced by first-time mothers.
She found the study was an eye-opener and showed how many missed opportunities there are for doctors and nurses to raise potential complications.
"I did not have any particular issues but it made me realise the impact that pregnancy can have on the body.
"I was not asked about urinary incontinence, for instance, by anyone during my postnatal check-ups. But it is a big issue for a lot of women."
She said while the health professionals at her GP surgery and maternity hospital were very nice, there appeared to be little time to prompt a discussion about issues that could be regarded as taboo.
"They put a lot of responsibility on the patient and, of course, it is a two-way process. But first-time mothers may not know what to expect and a lot are shy and afraid.
"They are not aware of what is normal and do not have the vocabulary to ask."
She believes a simple checklist should be routine for all pregnant women and new mothers, which would ask them about conditions they could be keeping hidden.
"It can open up a dialogue. It's important to go beyond the basics such as measuring the bump.
"If I have another baby, I will certainly be more assertive and conscious about my care," she added.