I've been in a bit of a spin thinking about this post and if I should publish it. I was left feeling upset by my recent Health Visitor's visit - I've tried to just forget it, but I want to know a little more!
We live in Bromley but on the lewisham border - literally the first road classed at Lewisham, recently we had to change GP's as we were no longer in the catchment area for our preferred GP - who hubby had been with for 30 years and I had built up a level of trust and been through two pregnancies with.
We now fall under Lewisham health care even though we are in Bromley.
I received a letter to say that as we were new to the GP's, Blake needs his 2.5 year check and Meg her 9-12month check, they would be doing a home visit.
Now I've never heard of home visits after the newborn checks so must be something just Lewisham NHS do.
I know my parenting styles don't always follow the conventional methods but I do believe in what I'm doing and that I am a good mum (not perfect, but I do what I feel is my absolute best - BF past 6months, Baby Led Weaning, Co- sleeping, sometimes wearing a sling, organic food, BPA free products, only use artificial pharmaceuticals if I feel it's absolutely necessary, avoid parabens in skin care etc)
Maegan was having a nap, so Blake had his development check first. Blake is bright, he's known numbers up to 10 since he was 18months, can now count to 20, knows his ABC's, that his name starts with B and is a general chatterbox and excellent story teller, one of the things I'm proud of - naming a large number of dinosaurs! - the Health Visitor recommended that Blake needs help with his speech and we should take him to see the drop in speech therapist! My reply was that we do lots of phonics exercises and reading and I'm confident in his speech. Is it common practice to refer all children to a speech therapist? Or has my son got a genuine problem that I can't see? Love is blind and all that.
I'm a little concerned by Blake's current fussy eating but not too worried as his weight is still on the 50th and he's a very happy healthy little boy and almost all nearly 3 year olds go through this stage. She advised vitamin drops - I explained that I would try them as a last resort but I believe in teaching a balanced diet rather than artificial supplements. - she really didn't want to let it go, and repeated that she strongly advises vitamins - that she's seen a number of children in my neighbourhood with rickets! My reply was that we are an outdoor family and I feel the sun provides us with vitamin D and I asked if my son was displaying symptoms of rickets - which of course he isn't.
Is the standard advice really to give artificial vitamin supplements to our children, rather than practicing a good healthy nutritionally balanced lifestyle and regardless of need?
She also advised me that Blake needs another MMR jab as in lewisham they do an extra one "just incase the previous ones fail!"
Anyone else advised to have an extra MMR? there also seems to be conflict over the age of having the MMR2 Preschooler booster.
When it was Maegan's turn, I was advised to give her the BCG - as we live in a neighbourhood with a "high number of infected immigrants!" but they don't give it to Blake! So I can protect one child but not the other!
BCG jabs for under ones only?
She also, and again, not willing to drop it - advised I give vitamin drops to Maegan too!
Maegan was exclusively breastfed until 5.5months and then we went down the baby led weaning route. She still has BF's from me and I plan to do this as long as I can or up to 18 months.
Firstly, they don't advise extended breastfeeding as "it doesn't provide adequate nutrition" and that she recommended introducing a formula, growing up milk!
Since when have they started advising formula over boobie milk? I've never heard of that one before! - she even wrote in Maegan's book that she has formula when she doesn't at all! - I've noted in the book that she's BF.
And they also don't advise BLW I need to make sure I give her lots of textured purees! Maegan has a fantastic sense of adventure when it comes to food and where I can, I buy organic. Now, I'm a fan of BLW even though I know it's not the advised program , I'd recommend it but I also know that BLW doesn't suit every baby and every parent. Surely, if BLW is clearly working - you wouldn't expect to be advised to switch at 11months?
The discussion moved to dental care - where I explained that we see a family dentist together and Blake's last check up was only a month ago with no concerns. I have a few missing teeth - this is from a genetic issue and nothing at all to do with dental hygiene - I can't help but think this was an assumption the Health Visitor made as she asked my son to show her his teeth and went on to say that she would advise switching from the children's tooth paste my dentist is happy with to an adult toothpaste for both children! This is because lewisham has a high rate of tooth decay in children! My children are being judged here purely on their neighbourhood and not their actual dental routine!
Is this a new standard to advise adult toothpaste for babies and toddlers? Even if only a month ago my dentist was happy with my children's oral hygiene?
She looked around the living room and said we should revisit our home safety needs and went on to start asking about the rest of the family. She said she was compiling a brief family tree for their records- when I asked what it was for, I was told that it was for if Social services were ever needed - if I was in "an accident ... or something!"
Anyone else have a health visitor compile a family tree for if social services are needed?
This did not sit well with me, especially after being told to revisit my home safety needs! Was she implying something?
Other points of the meeting included discussing domestic violence which I know are discussed with other health visitors too and she also asked if I was up to date with my smear tests - I'm not sure why but this is something which everyone needs to ask! - right down to the GP's receptionist! While I appreciate the importance of smear tests, I don't see what they have to do with my baby and toddler's development checks and I also believe that a woman should have the right to chose if she does or doesn't partake in having them without being judged.
She also informed me that they have a drop in sexual health clinic - in which I find that an extremely offensive comment given that we had already discussed I have been married for almost 5 years.
Although I found her to be a pleasant and professional health visitor, I couldn't help but feel disappointed and judged by the visit - even though I'm sure she was just following guidelines.
Which leads me to my next questions ...
Are the guidelines so rigid they take over common sense?
Is there an assumption, and that I conform based purely on the area I live in and not actually on my home and family?
(rickets and poor nutrition, TB, tooth decay, sexual disease, social service needs, poor speech, unsafe home etc)
Has anyone else come across this situation or blogged about their Health Visitor?
Emma in Bromley x