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My gripe with health visitors

The baby was supposed to have a 1-year health check with a health visitor today (it’s his birthday tomorrow!), but in keeping with tradition there was a mix-up about the time. I don’t have a very positive view of health visitors (people who support families with under-school-age-children who are usually midwives or nurses by training). Because we’ve been lucky that our children don’t have many health issues and we aren’t ‘known to Social Services’ as the phrase goes, the net benefit we’ve gained from the many hours spent at, or waiting for, appointments has been close to zero.

Yet they have a mandate to keep tabs on all children – an undoubtedly good thing as there’s a chance they can spot health problems, or abuse, although there are some very black marks on their record on that. The problem is that it takes parents a good year or so to realise that if they are like the majority of parents with no serious issues, they aren’t ever going to get help from a health visitor for their baby sleeping too little or crying too much.

They’ll get lots of advice, but the advice I’ve received has been inconsistent, non-evidence-based (like recommendations for gripe water and Infacol) and so generic or obvious as to be completely pointless. For example, my sister-in-law was struggling with a baby that never slept for more than 90 minutes at a time for months, and was told to simply hand over the baby to her husband and have herself a cup of tea.

The bleak truth about babies is that everyone is just guessing what might be wrong and what might work against it, but I never got the sense that the health visitors would agree with this – hence why lots of new parents are out of their minds with stress trying to carry out some piece of guesswork a health visitor presented to them as the sure-fire way to fix their issue.

All of this is compounded by administrative disorganisation that often results in missed appointments and mix-ups. In their defense, health visitors are nearly always very lovely people who like children and care about families’ well-being. They’re just not equipped to do much about it.

Maybe the last warm summer’s evening

The skies finally opened last night. I’m sure we weren’t the only ones this morning scrambling to find and dust off long-unused umbrellas and wellies. The forecast for the foreseeable looks deliciously cool and overcast. Good. I want to start wearing my new Marimekko rain coat I bought in Finland. ☔

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