What to expect when you’re expecting? Q&A with Dr Denis Walsh


Itchy skin, embarrassing symptoms, mood swings, breastfeeding worries… There’s a lot going on when there’s a baby on the way. So expert midwife Denis Walsh joined us for an hour-long Q&A on our Facebook page to answer your pregnancy questions!

However, before the Q&A began a bit of a debate kicked off about whether or not men should be midwives. Dr Denis stepped in, saying:

“You are right, a male midwife cannot ‘fully understand’ but from my experience and that of other male midwives, most women want kindness, compassion and empathy, plus knowledge so I think we get pretty close to that in comparison, say to a female midwife who has not had children.”

Debate aside, here’s what the expert midwife had to say to our Facebook fans:

Q: Is it safe to take fish oil (liquid form) supplement and what dosage?
A: Yes, go with what is recommended on the bottle.

Q: If you had hyperemesis in your first pregnancy are you likely to get it in the next one?
A: Probably but it should not be as severe.

Q: I’m approaching 36 weeks, do you think rasberry leaf tea, pineapple or any other things help bring on labour? If so when would you advise to start using them?
A: To be honest, there is very little evidence that anything brings on labour. You can try them as they are not harmful.

Q: Is there any way of speeding up the return of ovulation after stopping the depo?
A: Not sure about that. I would speak to your GP or family planning nurse/midwife.

Q: What’s your views on home fetal heart beat monitors? Cause more panic than needed or helpful and put mind at rest?
A: Good question. If there are no problems with your pregnancy, there is absolutely no need for it clinically. It is nice for parents to hear – it helps you connect with the baby but that is all.

Q: In your experience people that have had serious problems later on in pregnancy/in pregnancy/medically would you recommended them to get one or would you advise not to?
A: I would advise against it. I have seen it cause lots of unnecessary anxiety and, actually, not that much reassurance.

Q: I’m constantly getting itchy lately. Is their anything that can stop this?
A: Most itchiness are not significant. If it persists over weeks and is present past 24 weeks, see your community midwife.

Q: How soon after having the baby can you start going the gym if you haven’t exercised in pregnancy?
A: You can start gentle exercise within 4 weeks and slowly build it up from there.

Q: My baby is due in 7 weeks. I’ve decided not to breastfeed. Can I choose what formula milk my baby goes on or is it whatever the maternity ward gives after birth?
A: No, you can decide that yourself. These days, the maternity wards carry the main brands. To be honest, there is not much difference between them.

Q: I would like to ask why after breast feeding am I left with no breast at all.
A: Breast size is not affected by breastfeeding after you stop.

Q: Should I ask my GP for a blood test if I have eat some spanish fuet or should I worry only if I get listeria symptoms? I am 22 weeks pregnant).
A: Ask your midwife. Community midwives, she is the expert.

Q: I’m pregnant with my third child and want to have it at home as I’m due on Christmas Eve. My other labours were straight forward. Do you think this would be a good idea?
A: Yes, home birth is really safe for you. Third babies are statistically the safest of all, if you have had two previous normal birth.

Q: Can you breast feed if you have had TB?
A: As long as your TB is not active and you are not having treatment for it currently.

Q: Is it normal to have bladder control issues in trimester 1?
A: If you mean stress incontinence, yes, it is more common than everybody thinks but should resolve within 6 weeks of the birth.

And he even had some advice for students:

Q: I’m applying for midwifery this year, any tips/advice for the interview?
A: Have your reasons for wanting to be a midwife well rehearsed. Speak about the marvel of birthing, criticise its over medicalization.

Q: Any advise for interview tips for uni? I want to be a midwife, currently doing health care so hopefully get an interview.
A: Yes, there’s lots you can do to ‘sell’ yourself. Be passionate about childbirth and the miracle of it. Be able to discuss the pro and cons of a hot topic like home birth, or birth centres.

You can see the full Q&A on our Facebook page here, here and here.

Got an idea for our next Q&A sesh? Drop us a line at social@wowcher.co.uk with your suggestions!