Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Good milk, bad milk

Ahh the joy of feeding newborn babies! Every child is different, every couple is different, there are different ideals, different routines, and different formulas. Some mothers want to breast feed for as long as possible, some mothers don’t. Some mothers can’t breast feed, some can. Some babies like to breast feed, some don’t. As parents we find out what works and what doesn’t. That may mean breast-feeding, bottle-feeding or a combination of the two. My boy had breast for a short while then bottle from then on. That is what worked for us. He’s always been a healthy child so I don’t buy into the ‘breast is best’ doom mongering that goes on. As far as I’m concerned, ‘whatever stops the crying best is best’! Simples! Milk formula comes in all different shapes sizes and colors. There is SMA, Cow and Gate, Aptamil, Hipp, Organix and many many more. They all claim to be the best and do all sorts of magic things. The fact is, like some of us only like Heinz ketchup, babies can be fussy to. They will only eat what they like and we went through 4 different ones until we settled on Aptamil. The result of finding the right non-breast milk was our secret to ‘the boy’ sleeping 8 hours a night from 3 months old and 12 hours a night from 9 months old. Yes, I know, I have NO idea what being a parent is like; I’ve had it easy. I could give you my tips but to be honest, like I’ve said, you just find what works for you that match your child’s needs with your parenting ideals. Most people would have found our way of doing things haphazard but it worked for us and ‘the boy’ seemed fine on his 5th birthday. 

I’m not one to criticize other peoples parenting styles, but I see things at work which really make me question people’s suitability to nurture a baby. What will these children grow up to be like? I’d love to know.

“3 month old male, chest pains, clammy, not eating, has a fever”

I trust you are all asking exactly the same question as I was when this popped up on our screen!

“How in god’s name does a 3 month old baby explain that he has chest pain?!”

I was desperate to know! We arrived outside the location to find a lack of front door. It was a flat above shops so we had to wonder around to the dark ally way behind the block. We climbed the wet, metal staircase, walked across the flat room of the shops and knocked on the door. A frantic looking mum came and opened the door.

“This was”

She hurried off; we followed at our ambulance pace. For a first time reader, an ambulance pace is slightly slower than a walk but looks faster than a walk. Hard to perfect but maintains the pretence of an emergency whilst covering up out apathy. We entered the bedroom; the familiar sight of double bed next to a cot greeted us. The only difference to the norm was that the baby was lying on the double bed….fast asleep. It was 3am after all!

“What makes you say he has chest pain?” I simply had to know.

“He was really sweaty and isn’t eating”

“He doesn’t seem in pain now, he looks fast asleep”

“I know, but he hasn’t woken up for his feed”

“Isn’t that cause for celebration?!” She didn’t seem to appreciate my humor.

“I changed him from this (points at Aptamil) to this (points at a weird looking organic thing) yesterday and now he’s not eating at all”

“So change back!”

“I read that this one (Aptamil) was bad for him.”

“Then try a different one”

“Are you sure he’s not ill?”

“He’s asleep, he hasn’t got a temperature, he is a good color, he is breathing normally and you haven’t said he has a cough at all. His nappies are normal, the only problem I can see is that he is asleep and doesn’t like his new milk.”

“Can you check to see if he has meningitis?"

“He doesn’t have meningitis. We can take you to hospital if you like.”

“I’ve already been twice today.”

“By ambulance?”


“And what did the hospital say?”

“That everything was OK”

Three ambulances, two hospital visits and still, she was convinced there was something wrong because he was asleep at 3am and didn’t like the odd looking organic tree hugging formula. If it tasted as bad as the packaging looked I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he refused to eat it! 

There seems to be a recurring theme with my blogs of late, and that is the issue around what to do for inappropriate uses of the ambulance. This woman had cost the NHS almost £3000 today in ambulances alone, add to that the 2 visits to hospital. This kind of use is unsustainable and costing millions. Education, education, education. I don’t want to be quoting Tony Blair but that is what people need. This woman was eastern European, her son was born here but she had only lived here for five years. I’m not complaining about her ethnic origin, she was here legally, she and her husband work and pay taxes, they both have a good grasp of the English language and that is all I expect from anyone who lives here, British or otherwise. The problem is, they are not brought up with a health care system like ours in their country and as such, do not seem to grasp how it should be used. Far to often people don’t seem to know what and when to use their GP, they call ambulance thinking we are a mobile pharmacy and there seems to be no education structure for immigrants coming into this country. We cannot simply expect foreign visitors to know what to do. A simple leaflet on a rack in a GP surgery is not enough. Someone needs to take the time to explain it, multiple contacts with the NHS in one day clearly shows there is a flaw in the system as well as her parenting. That is what needs fixing.


  1. Thats the sort of thing that should be in the "Englishness test" not which king was on the throne in 1066!

    1. You have a choice of two for 1066...... ;)

  2. It constantly amazes me that someone will read something in a book, magazine or online & they take it as gospel yet when they call in healthcare professionals who disagree with whatever nonsense was written (but who are called in because the duff advice is, well, duff and something has gone wrong) the person ignores the professional and seeks multiple referrals seeking validation for the incorrect view.

    Short of having an 'appraising evidence' module/exam at school I see no way around this.

  3. Can that education extend to our own folk at home please? I have lost count of the calls I have been to where the patient expects us to hand out drugs and then leave. When we ask if they want to go to hospital they answer "No, I don't want to go to hospital. That's why I called you."

    We then explain til we're blue in the face that we are not a pharmacy van, nor can we prescribe drugs like their GP can, so either they can wait til the morning and see their GP, or we can take them to hospital now (because that's what we do!) and they can maybe get what they think they need there.

    Transport refused, paperwork signed, we go on our merry way, only to be called back to the same house not long after cos the pt has called 999 again in the hope of getting a different crew, because there *must* be a crew out there who are driving that magical pharmacy van, right?


    And this is born-and-bred Brits. It's not just the incomers who need the education!

  4. Wow, the little hours of the day and fast asleep, comfy and content.
    I'd have been tempted to tell her she wasted thousands of pounds today. :-/

  5. We were stopped in the street coming out of a job the other day by a young man driving past "I've got head pain and stomach pain" me "Well go and see your GP then"
    "Can't you give me some pain killers"
    "No, go and buy some paracetamol"
    "I can't afford them"
    "They are 30p in the corner shop"

    I was tempted to say that he was driving a newer car than me so not having 30p for some painkillers seemed a trifle unlikely.

    I despair sometimes- we do tell people that there are other ways of getting treatment for non emergencies but i don't think they listen.

  6. Bloody charge them! If someone phones an ambulance more than once in a day for the same non-emergency, charge them for the call-out!

  7. This helps a lot to know just what to do and what not to do!! breast lift tape

  8. This helps a lot to know just what to do and what not to do!! breast lift tape

  9. This helps a lot to know just what to do and what not to do!! breast lift tape

  10. Hi Ella. Loving your description of 'Ambulance Pace'. I've been doing this for years and couldn't have named it let alone describe it so perfectly. Keep up the great work on the blog.., you do make me laugh :-)


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