Thursday, December 6, 2012

My midwife doesn’t wear gloves – another edition of Pregnant in Sweden

So this week meant the fun fun fun of a glucose test for this pregnant lady. This is pretty much a joyous experience of downing a glass full of super sweet crap and sitting still for two hours to see if your blood sugar will spike showing you have gestational diabetes.

The glucose test in Sweden is two hours long – I hear tales of US tests being 1 hour and then 3 hours long, so we land in the middle. It seems fair.

This time around, my midwife, who, if you’ve been following my blog, you will know I am not crazy about, made yet another blunder – or two or three or four. She didn’t tell me which glass was the sugar mix and which was the water (You get two glasses, one with plain water to help you). This means I squeezed my lemon half (you are allowed to flavor your sugar water with half a lemon to dull some of the sweetness) into my glass of water. I then spent five minutes suffering trying to get that down the hatch. Then I took a sip of my ‘water’ and realized it was the glucose mix. That was why the lemon had done such a good job. I was a little annoyed. I spent another 5 minutes trying to swallow that one.

Anyways, after two hours of listening to audiobooks and trying to solve NYT crosswords on my phone (yes I am a nerd), she came in and took my blood. She poked me, and since I am super pregnant, I bled all over the place (this is a pregnancy thing, your body is making lots of extra blood for baby and you bleed like crazy). But my midwife, once again, was not wearing any gloves.

I posted about this before, since my midwife with my last pregnancy did the same thing. It really freaks me out. Both for their health and safety and my own. I mean, it is 2012! There is HIV, Hep A,B,C, and all other kinds of icky stuff. I do not need to be blood sisters with my midwife.

Since I have been in Sweden only one midwife, the one who was caring for my miscarriage before it was a miscarriage, wore gloves while taking my blood. Why is this not standard practice? Are these midwives thwarting the system? I mean, yes it may be annoying to put on that many pairs of gloves, but aren’t there basic standards of care? And in Sweden shouldn’t that mean wearing gloves while taking blood samples?

Am I completely overreacting? This time, in my sugared out, fasting state of hunger and thirst I said nothing and just yearned to get the whole thing over with. But my crazy paranoia brings up thoughts of the AIDS dentist from the 1980s (yes I know that is an absurd comparison).

(Side note- Also they calculate blood sugar in Europe using a completely different method than in the US. Every time I inquire about this I am told I am being silly and that the numbers I am using are made up numbers – a blood sugar of 130? That can’t be right!--. Every time I come home I look it up and realize that it is just a completely different measurement.)


  1. My midwife took my blood with no gloves, too, and I think they did stuff at the hospital with no gloves. I asked about it once. They said they had my chart and knew I had no diseases, so what's to worry about? Um.

    Just FYI it is difficult to comment on your posts with all the steps and the tricky bit where you have to write the word/number. If you don't have a spam problem maybe you can consider turning that off?


    Seems you're right, 2:10.

  3. Be proactive! "Would you please wear gloves when you take my blood?" "I didn't see you wash your hands, would you mind doing that for me?" It can't hurt to express your wishes, and they are surely based on good care protocol!

  4. It seems to me that the midwife acts completely wrongly, perhaps this is a private care centre? And they save money. I have never heard of anything like this before and I´m a Biomedicine Analyst in Stockholm since many years. And that´s true, she had to be safe, both for you and for herself. I can´t believe this, you should call Karolinska sjukhuset, Kvinnokliniken and talk to someone. And tell them.

  5. Here: , they should NOT do anything involving a needle without gloves. Frankly, I think you should request a new midwife, and tell the supervisor what you thought about this one. (In general, not having given birth, I have issues with Sweden's use of midwives rather than OBGYNs. Perhaps it's not intrinsically wrong, but the general impression of midwives in Sweden that I get are that they act on old information, don't stay updated, are gender traditionalists, make arbitrary decisions like with your blood test, and are bull-headed about things. I am sure there are nice ones, but I've rarely heard of them.

  6. That is not acceptable!

  7. Thanks for all of the support and for agreeing I am not over reacting.

    @antropologa - Thanks for letting me know, I thought I had turned that off, but it got turned on again. Have changed it, hopefully! I get that they have records that my blood is clean, but I don't get to see their medical records!

    @Shelley - Thanks, I did with my last midwife - in fact I think I looked pretty horrified when she came at me with a needle and no gloves, but this time I was a bit out of it due to the damn glucose test.

    @Monica - Thanks for letting me know, I have never seen a Biomedical analyst take blood without gloves! But both of these midwives were vårdcentral -- my old one was in association with the hospital. Good to know you find it out of the question -- I think I will bring it up with the midwife at the next appointment and then depending on the answer I get, speak with someone higher up. Or maybe let them know about it next time I am at the KK

    @T-anna - actually I generally like the midwife run care over ob-Gyns in a healthy pregnancy, and I loved the midwives in the delivery room with me last time, but find the older ones who tend to do the check-ups for healthy pregnancy to be very 'tut-tutty' if that makes any sense. And def. gender traditionalists who talk to you like you are about 5 years old. But I have pretty much learned to shut out most of what they say, since my last pregnancy required specialists, I know if something is necessary I will not be dealing with these 'hens' (which is what they remind me of) but with the doctors and midwives at the hospital - who are much more straight forward.

  8. It sounds absolutely crazy. Even if they know your medical history, they don't know what has happened in between updating it. And then of course they also need to wear gloves for your safety. I have to wear gloves if I support someone to brush their teeth in my job, and if I am helping someone to wash their hair. The English just love health and safety though, but I rather have it a bit too much than too relaxed.

  9. Of course people should wear gloves when they take your blood, as you can see from the link above but It's very common that people don't wear them, the standard phrase they use when correcting them is "it's difficult to feel the vein with gloves". I do not agree, I palpate the vein, disinfect the skin and then I put on gloves. You're not supposed to touch the skin after it's been disinfected anyway. I think it's good that you react and next time you should tell them. It's against regulation to take blood without gloves!