Accessing Good Maternity Care While Living With Chronic Illness

The most difficult part of my journey was conceiving and coming off medication. It was a testing time coming off methotrexate and reducing painkillers. I had a supportive rheumatologist who respected our decision to have children and she supported me to reduce medication. She also referred me for further tests with infertility specialists and I was referred to pre-pregnancy counseling.

At the time, I underestimated the importance of the pre-pregnancy counseling, it helped put a plan in place for when I did get pregnant and they made it clear that I would be consultant-led with regular hospital appointments and check-ups.

At first, my maternity care was based with the Community Midwife as my GP arranged the first appointment. I had made it clear to her that I would be consultant-led and asked about the referral process to the consultant in question. She was very dismissive of this and instead I was assessed by a consultant at the Health Center who deemed me as “green” pathway and not a high risk. This didn’t sit well with me and my gut instinct told me I would have to push for more support.

I chased up the hospital referral for pre-pregnancy counseling and after many phone calls, I finally was given an appointment for the consultant at the maternity unit and was prescribed a low dose of aspirin as required for pregnant women with chronic conditions.

This was a turning point for me during my pregnancy and I’ve been seen every four weeks by consultant and midwife with regular growth scans. The maternity support I have received has been consistent with an assigned midwife and consultant who are aware of my conditions. I’m now 29 weeks pregnant with a clear plan in place with the view of being induced at 37 weeks.

woman taking a selfie and showing off her pregnant belly

If you are pregnant with a chronic illness, have a plan in place and ensure you receive the right support and don’t be afraid to ask for more support.

Image Credits: Leann Kelly

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