Maternity Day Assessment Unit

The MDAU is a slightly frustrating place. Despite any images its name may conjure up, it’s really just a group of four rooms and a waiting area located next to the antenatal ward and labour triage. When you arrive, there is no reception desk, or means to book yourself in. You’re expected to just “Take a seat and someone will be with you shortly.” Except, they can’t be with you shortly if they don’t know that you’re there. And my experience over the past couple of days has already taught me that even if you have an appointment, they won’t realise that you’re there for quite some time.

And it’s sort of frustrating to be there at all. I understand why we made the decision to do daily monitoring, and the reassurance that everything is fine at that moment is nice. But that’s just it: it’s only at that moment. In the 24 hours between assessments, anything at all could happen. From that perspective, the effort of dragging myself to the hospital and the hours spent waiting, and then actually being monitored, seem slightly pointless.

There’s a tiny part of me that thinks if we’re going to do this, why don’t we just get on with induction. But another part is still questioning whether induction is the right course of action at all. I just don’t know anymore. But I do know that sitting in that waiting area isn’t helping. Yesterday was a specific case in point, where I found myself in tears when I finally made it on to the couch to be monitored, and stupidly couldn’t really articulate why. A mixture of “normal” late pregnancy tiredness and hormones, with worry about whether the baby is OK, uncertainty about whether we should be waiting to induce or inducing at all, and frustration at having had to drag myself to the hospital and wait for so long. I don’t think I’d have been in tears if I’d stayed on the sofa with a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive. But there we are.

Fortunately thus far the CTG traces have been fine. And no matter how much I protest, it is some reassurance. Flangelina was feeling sleepy today, and it seemed to take forever for the criteria for satisfactory monitoring to be met. But the whole time I could hear their heartbeat and was feeling occasional movements, so I wasn’t worried. I suppose I was getting comfort from the fact that I was in the right place to deal with any problems.

I am confused, however, by the contractions that keep showing up on the monitor. Both yesterday and today, the traces showed regular (as in, every five minutes, lasting a minute or so) contractions up to 90%!! Sounds exciting until I tell you that I can’t feel them. At all. The midwife looking after me today expressed surprise when she looked at the trace ad asked “Are you having contractions?” with a look of total shock on her face – which is understandable given that the baby is still 4/5 palpable and the head is not fixed. I looked at her blankly, and shrugged. She felt my bump though and concluded that no, I’m not actually contracting.

So why the regular contractions on the trace? Mystery to me! I’m still none the wiser about Braxton Hicks contractions either, as I certainly do feel odd tightening sensations – and have done on and off over the last few weeks – but when I questioend whether these could be Braxton Hicks I was told “No, you’ll know if they are”

Or, perhaps not? Given that I haven’t done this before, how exactly would I know? Ack. Frustrating.

Oh, and about that 4/5 palpable. It’s otherwise know as barely engaged. Which is deeply depressing given that they really need to engage to be born, and that first babies are generally found to engage well in advance of labour. Even more depressing that last week the head was apparently further engaged, and from the stabbing pains down below, I really thought things had been moving in the right direction, rather than in reverse.

Sigh.

I don’t think this post has a point at all.

I’m just ready to be done now. That is all.

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