Saturday, 5 March 2011


One more week on placement, one more assignment result to come in and almost one year's training completed. The last year certainly seems to have flown by all of a sudden, although it didn't feel that fast whilst it was happening.....definitely felt slow when I was writing assignments.

This past week I have been spending my time with a Health Visitor and some of the other staff that work in the Children's Centre. The staff are lovely and have tried hard to fill my week with a number of different activities so that I get to see plenty. However it has been an unusually quiet week and I haven't seen much at all. It's also quite unusual for me to have nothing to do, as it's an observational placement. I've found it really difficult to sit back and not do anything and well I'm not very good at keeping my mouth shut.

Over my time at various groups with my own children, and time spent on parenting forums, I had heard a variety of stories, both good and bad, about Health Visitors. Stories of poor advice, outdated advice, fantastic support, reassurance, pushiness, unrealistic advice amongst other things. I could probably write a book of stories I have heard about health visitors. Personally I have only had the misfortune of one poor experience with a Health Visitor, all the rest have been fantastic. So whilst this doesn't really relate to my Midwifery training, I thought I'd share my experience. I'd been to see her about my daughter's nightmares, desperate for any advice I could get and she told me it was a bad habit. My jaw literally dropped and I was almost speechless. My husband "encouraged" me out of the room fairly quickly as he could sense my temper was rising. My daughter is now 5 and still suffers from nightmares, although she is far better than she was. At the time I approached the Health Visitor, she was having 3-4 nightmares a night and it would take 30-50 minutes to calm her down each time. She'd wake shaking with fear, sweating and her eyes would dart around the room looking for whatever horror it was that had scared her. Yet this was a "habit"? A year later, some educational psychologists happened to visit the school and I took the opportunity to ask their opinion on nightmares. They were very reassuring and calm, and explained how it was quite normal at her age, and that I should expect it to pass within a couple of months. They then asked me how long she'd suffered with them? My reply was "at least 2 years" and it was their turn to have their jaws drop.

I've always been fairly confident of the reason behind her nightmares - she has a very active imagination. She could make up stories and worlds of her own from a very young age. She would carry around her imaginary friends of spiders and monsters....and it was my feeling that in actual fact, it was spiders and monsters that she was afraid of.  At 5, she still has one nightmare a night most nights....very occasionally she'll sleep through the whole night. We've tried keeping a diary, reducing her cheese intake, giving her a nightlight and a variety of other things suggested to us. She's always had a good bedtime routine of bath or quiet time, story and then bed. Nothing has really made any difference to whether or not she has a nightmare. These days I may not be able to completely stop the nightmares but when she does wake from the one that she has, I "give" to her a good dream, which somehow seems to work. I live in hope that one day she will outgrow them but for now I will just be there for her to comfort her, and never will I consider it a habit she has to break.

I guess my experience with this particular Health Visitor has taught me,  to always think about what I am saying, that if I don't know the answer to something, that it is ok to say so and that making assumptions is bad enough without voicing them as well.


  1. Thank you so much for this post. My 3 and a half year old daughter has been suffering nightmares AND night terrors for about a year now. After reading your post I feel reasured that it is something she will grow out of, eventually. Like your daughter she also has a very vivid and active imagination which I too have always believed to be the source of her problems. She often has nights that are worse than others where she also complains of leg pain - I think this is growing pains and seems to increase the incidences of waking/screaming. I love your idea of giving a good dream to send them back off to sleep and will be trying that next time I need to.

  2. I hope it does help Emma. We also make sure she gets up and has a wee - this makes sure she wakes properly from the dream. My daughter also had night terrors but she has grown out of them now.