NHS Part 5

This update will comprise of three appointments. Two of which are strictly with the midwife, while the third will talk about testing for diabetes in the UK.

For my Week 25 visit with the midwife, my husband was able to come along. All touchy-feelies aside, this was a very routine visit with questions about my well-being, another urine sample, blood pressure checks, talks about flu/whooping cough shots, subsequent follow-up appointments (of which you will see as you read on) and… not weighing me in… question mark, head-tilt?

Short of the midwives having an eye for weight gain in the UK (I suspect not), or perhaps me assuming them to be just as rabid at weighing a person in as they are in the US (not related to pregnancy, but my experience in the US has been that, even if you’re there for something completely unrelated, they still like to drop you on a scale every time you visit), I’m uncertain how I feel about that. While I’ve been keeping an eye on things to ensure a slow progression in my overall gain – something that was an actual concern of mine back in the first trimester – it seems that, out of all the parties involved, I’m the only one.

Point being: there was no dreaded weigh-in, and there hasn’t been one since my very first appointment with the Midwives.

This being my first pregnancy, in the UK they require a follow-up for Week 28. It is also in Week 28 that the midwives re-take and re-test a person’s blood to ensure that everything is still going well. It can take a couple of weeks for the results to come back from the lab, so said results are usually documented at the Week 31 appointment (to be covered in another post in the near future). This was also the first time they measured the Fundal height. Beyond that, it was a repeat of the same things covered in previous visits.

In addition to the Week 28 routine checkup, I had the added benefit (pleasure?) of doing a Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT). Most people in the States might be familiar with this being done by taking a sugary drink (from what I’ve heard, this is a solution typically provided by the clinic itself in the States) early in the morning on an empty stomach, taking a blood sample, waiting an hour, and then taking another sample to see how the pancreas responded.

In the UK, the same more-or-less holds true, only they book you to come in for three appointments, one after another. Oh and you provide the sugary drink. It can’t be just any sugary drink of choice, either. Nope, they require you to buy a 1 litre bottle of Lucozade, but it has to be the non-sport variety with an exact amount of calories per millilitres (I won’t bore you any more than that). Strangely enough, they only use, exactly 410ml of the bottle… So they needed a full litre because… why?

I’m still trying to not shake my head too much at what looks like a captured market. Also, at the day of the appointment, I was surprised to see the clinic just so happened to have a bottle right there, leading me to conclude that the extra millilitres are for those who forgot/couldn’t afford to buy it for themselves. I wouldn’t bank on this always being the case, but it was nice to see. Either way, it wasn’t going to go to waste so I can live with that.

“But how does it taste?” Honestly, it tastes like a slurry of carbonated water and sugar – which isn’t all that surprising given that is basically all that it is, plus some stuff to preserve the flavour. Why anyone would care to, is another question but I digress…

The first thing that happens after checking-in with reception (after a short wait in my case) is you’re called into a room by the nurse where they verify your identity, then the process is like this:

For the Glucose Tolerance Test, they will first take a vial of blood to test your fasting blood-sugar levels. After that, they will give you the Lucozade to drink as best as you can, only allowing water to be used to cut the taste. Once you have it down, they send you away to come back in an hour.

Now, you see, I assumed (oops) when they sent me out of the room to wait, that it meant “hang around here until we call you back in,” but when I was called back and the nurse commented on how surprising it was that I sat and waited, which was my first clue that it wasn’t a common behaviour… Anyway! I was called back in and they took another vial of blood and then it was back out to wait for another hour for a final vial of blood (at which point I concluded that there is a striking similarity between the people who draw blood for these tests and mosquitoes – though to be fair, that might have had a thing or two do with the fact that I was buzzed on sugar-water and was hungry).

With my arm dubiously sporting multiple puncture wounds, the last of the blood collected, I was told to expect the results in a week or so, advised to get plenty of water before being sent on my way.

More adventures with the NHS will be documented and shared in November – including the process of changing clinics/surgeries (in the UK, you’re required to do that when you move into a different service area).

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