As a doctor, Lucy Blanks, 30, understood all about the role of a health visitor. However, it wasn’t until she became a mum herself that she realised just how important their work really was.
At seven-weeks-old Lucy’s daughter, Rosie, was diagnosed with an inguinal hernia which occurs when fatty tissue or part of the bowel pokes through into the groin. Shortly after her diagnosis, Rosie underwent an operation to have her hernia repaired.
It was a difficult time for Lucy, from West Bridgford, who found support not only from her family but from her local health visitor too.
“Nicola had been helping me with breastfeeding Rosie because she had lost a lot of weight following her birth” recalls Lucy. “When I showed Nicola the hernia, she was really reassuring and kind, which was just what I needed.
“Before Rosie’s operation, Nicola insisted on giving me her mobile number so that I could contact her if I needed any help. She said that, even if I didn’t need her, she still wanted to know how Rosie was. She always put our health above anything else. We felt very well looked after.
“At the hospital, as Rosie was taken into the anaesthetic room, I felt a deep wrenching in my stomach; I hadn’t spent longer than half an hour away from her since she’d been born.
“The operation went very well, but my time on the ward with Rosie was extremely difficult. I had struggled with breastfeeding and Rosie was particularly reluctant to feed in hospital. I felt really rejected and dejected."
Nicola picked me back up. She told me how brilliantly I’d done and helped me to formulate a plan for feeding. I never felt that Nicola was judging me. I was never made to feel inadequate.
“Rosie is very well now – she is a very happy, chatty baby – and has almost managed to roll over! She might have manged it by now, if she didn’t spend so much time talking! We are so thankful to Nicola - she was a huge support to me and my new family.
“Health visitors are a lifeboat in the stormy days of having a new baby. You can read as many books as you like but there is no substitute for their wealth of experience. They provide a help and kindness to families that we found to be indispensable.”
Health Visiting Week is from 26 – 30 September. Visit our A-Z of Services for more information about our health visiting services.