Tag Archives: women’s healthcare

“Fat and anxious”

It probably wasn’t the greatest idea to read the searing Ockenden report (on maternity care at the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS Trust) whilst recovering from a gynae op myself. Reeling from the misogyny of my own experience there was so much evidence to point to the fact that I was not alone.

A year later I don’t remember much detail from the report, just the miserable stench of its accounts of patriarchal and hierarchical condescension towards women patients in their hour of need, sometimes with their newborn baby’s life hanging in the balance.  One comment, however, lingers in the memory: “Fat and very anxious”. 

A third or fourth degree in childbirth (a tear from the vagina to the anus) is legendarily painful. On p 132 of her report on the Shrewsbury and Telford NHS trust Ockenden highlights the following account: “In 2014 when a woman was reviewed in this clinic after a third degree tear the doctor wrote in the notes: “Well but fat and very anxious . Can try for a vaginal birth, risk of re-occurrence low”. This has echoes of a 2022 Panorama interview with a woman with a fourth-degree birth tear who, when she alerted doctors to the fact that she was passing stools through her vagina, was initially dismissed as having a “bit of a fanny fart”. 

Fat and anxious. This also stopped me in my tracks because it mirrored my own hospital notes from last year saying that I was “concerned about going up a dress size”. This was a clinician’s description of my request (after being gaslighted for 7 weeks) for an urgent review after a catastrophic reaction to the insertion of a coil which had seen me go up from a size 12 to a size 20 in a matter of days. I reached out for help on ten occasions, on nine of these I was told it would all settle down. Only on one occasion, at A and E, was I taken seriously. Much was made on the other occasions of my anxiety. Wouldn’t anyone be racked with anxiety when a medical device had caused them to expand like a barrage balloon without explanation?

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 5 Comments

Recent Comments

  • Michael BG
    Joe Bourke, A 1p rise in the basic rate of income tax would be expected to raise about £5.7 billion in the first year and £6.95 billion in the second and a...
  • Adrian Hyyrylainen-T
    Excellent article Chris - explains so eloquently the more complex nature of gender and the fact that Gender critical people argue “you can’t change biologic...
  • Joe Bourke
    Harold Wilson didn't stop the Vietnam War but he did keep the UK out of it, devalued the pound, increased the bank lending rate to 8% and made big cuts in defe...
  • Joe Bourke
    Rachel Reeves like the Libdems is proposing a basic fiscal rule (the Golden rule) that says (outside of recessions) governments shouldn’t plan to pay for curr...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Joe, Good point about the Vietnam war having an affect on inflation at a time when both the £ and the DM were defined against the $. I fail to see how an ...