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Robert, father of two (born 2005 and 2011), hometown Kenilworth

There were significant differences between 2005 and 2011. The attitudes and behaviour of the professionals had changed greatly. In 2005 it seemed impersonal and chaotic. In 2011 a single midwife was the main point of contact, and it seemed to be well-thought out and personal. A consultant was briefly involved, but was kept well under control. He knew his place! In 2005 the hospital ward after the birth was chaotic, with far too many visitors, noise, and constant interruptions by sales people (yes, sales people, from all kinds of businesses). The staff were inattentive, and missed the fact that the baby wasn't feeding properly. He starved for the first few days, until we realised something was wrong and brought him back in. Once in the special care unit, the quality of care changed dramatically. They immediately told us to forget breast feeding (no milk, but the breast feeding dogma of the time seemed incapable of accepting that as a possibility). In 2011 we were positively encouraged to take a pragmatic approach to feeding (although there was still a little nervousness about ignoring the official line).

One odd detail - when having anything to do with the NHS now, I always wear a suit and stare them right in the eyes. No matter how nice they seem, you have to remember that its a system with forces that seek to assert authority and control even when it has no right to do so. Assertiveness. That's not nice, especially at a time like childbirth, but it seems necessary.

Overall - childbirth a magical, special time? No chance. It's reduced to a process.