Best Private Option For a Natural Birth?

(93 Posts)
DaisyBug Thu 04-Apr-13 19:23:45

Not pregnant yet but wondering....

Now that John and Lizzy's no longer do births, what's the best option for those who'd prefer a back-to-nature approach and aren't averse to a bit of whale music? The likes of The Portland/Lindo Wing/etc. don't seem to be very geared-up to this. Or am I out of touch?

I would have considered an independent midwife at home but, with this option likely to be disappear shortly too and availability of NHS midwives for homebirths being something a lottery, I'm wondering if there are any other avenues I should be exploring?

Karoleann Thu 04-Apr-13 22:21:10

The Portland has a birthing pool or two and so does the refitted Lindo wing, most consultants are pro natural birth if its safe.
I had two with mr gibb, although I don't know if he's currently practising.

NotSpartacus Thu 04-Apr-13 22:22:44

Why is an independent midwife no longer an option?

Xenia Thu 04-Apr-13 22:33:31

I used private midwives for my twin birth and it was great - Caroline Flint etc. I think they now run through -

LaVolcan Thu 04-Apr-13 23:33:36

i didn't think the Lindo wing had birthing pools - the Consultants didn't want them.

Private midwives will no longer be able to practise from October, unless someone can sort out insurance for them, so that won't be any use to someone who isn't pregnant yet.

fgr Fri 05-Apr-13 06:58:15

The Portland has a Midwife Led Service and are very pro natural and there are birthing pools, balls etc. If you prefer a consultant it will be a case off finding one who is very pro natural, there are loads and if you search old threads on here you will find recommendations. Is this your first TTC?

ImogensMumJess Fri 05-Apr-13 08:20:10

Do you need to go private?
I had a fantastic water birth on NHS in the middle of London, I had the lights turned down low, music on, no drugs and all went according to plan (delayed cord cutting, skin on skin etc) till my placenta refused to come out and I had to go in to theatre. So was pleased I was in hospital as would have had to go there anyway.hmm

I guess it's a lottery on your local services though

Homebirth with a doula means that the mws are called when they need to be and no sooner, and that when they arrive they keep out of your space unless medically indicated.

I loved my homebirth on the NHS. MWs were fantastic. Doula was fantastic.

DaisyBug Sun 07-Apr-13 16:17:43

Thanks all.

I didn't think The Lindo Wing had any pools either?

Gosh Xenia, how wonderful to have managed a homebirth of twins! Great that you found independent midwives prepared to do that too.

As for whether I need to go private, it's something I've been budgeting for for years, as had always had either John and Lizzie's or an independent midwife in mind. It would be nice to think it wasn't necessary but I do worry about there not being enough NHS midwives being available at the time, as I gather this sometimes happens. That's encouraging to hear however that midwives are needed for relatively little time if you have a doula.

I'm wondering whether, once independent midwives are no longer able to practise, whether any will still be happy to be around in more of an advisory/doula-like capacity? I, for one, would certainly be prepared to pay for this.

Xenia Sun 07-Apr-13 19:38:10

DB, as soon as we knew it was twins (4th baby/ies) I and they decided we would start at home and move to an NHS hospital which would allow private midwives in as twin births can be very risky and are often very early. However twin 1 came quite quickly with the midwives here at home. Twin 2 decided he would like to be born another day I suspect and was fed up with his brother and the contractions gradually stopped so we went to hospital with twin 1 as a visitor and after a drip twin 2 was born naturally and we came home that night back home again. The first twins my birth registrar knew of where they were born in different London boroughs 7 hours apart. I never expected two 5 - 7 hour separate labours on the same day but birth is very unpredictable.

When we knew it was twins I asked my GP if I should not bother with private midwives but he said it was all the more important (his wife is an independent midwife) as the NHS are very interventionist with twins as indeed can private hospitals be. This is the big issue - if you pay in the UK for a private hospital you can have a worse birth and more intervention as non intervention is cheap in a sense.

My private midwives let the twins stay in util 40 weeks for example (they were monitored and fine). the NHS want to get them out at 38 weeks whether they are ready or not as a matter of policy.

I did not know that about private midwives so cannot comment on rules about insurance but there is nothing to stop any mother delivering at home and hiring a doula to help with that or indeed free b irthing if they want to or having NHS midwives at home.

I have not checked whatever this change is. There are lots of jobs where if you aren't insured people might sue you but you are not obliged to have insurance and can take a risk. however if there is a new law which says it is illegal to practise as an independent midwife after October then that's different. Might be worth emailing the midwives on my link above to see what they say about October changes.

TremoloGreen Sun 07-Apr-13 20:47:12

Whereabouts in London are you? I had the same question but decided to go with the NHS in the end as I had the option locally of a fab birth centre and have found my local maternity services to be very pro natural birth (probably because it's cheaper). I reckoned I'd be wasting my money going private.

If I hadn't been happy with what was on offer I would have gone with the private suite at St Thomas's - I think they have pools etc. It's always best to be in a well-equipped teaching hospital if there is an emergency. You could also consider spending as long as possible just at home (if it's your first baby, it's likely there'll be plenty of time) then transferring to hospital last minute. You could hire a doula or similar to help you through this stage and put you at ease.

Karoleann Sun 07-Apr-13 21:46:42

I may be wrong about the Lindo, I had a tour when they were undergoing refurb and the woman showing me around told me where the pool was going - worth checking.
I had dc1 at the landsell suite in st Thomas. TBH I preferred the Portland, I started off at st Thomas' again with dc2, but didn't feel the care was great.
Will you probably be a low risk birth? Do you have any health problems, or are you an older mum? If you're going to be consultant led anyway, maybe choose a consultant and then see where they deliver. Otherwise have a look round the units.

PeaceAndHope Sun 07-Apr-13 23:07:51

Why would you go private for an all-natural birth when the NHS is only too happy to oblige you for free?

Jokes apart, private care is all about choice. You're in control. You could pick any hospital and have a natural birth if you wanted.

Because natural or otherwise is heavily influenced by your environment, attitude and time of caregivers and level of support.

Xenia Mon 08-Apr-13 08:24:17

I could have afforded a private hospital but I did find the private midwives better reflected my own views of birth. There are a lot of women in private hospitals who want epidurals and C sections and a lot of doctors who are perhaps a bit too cautious. I was open to any intervention necessary to save the children of course - you cannot predict what birth will be like but I found having the private midwives was a good option. Also they came to the house for all the ante natal which saved me money as I work for myself. Anyway if they stop operating in October then it's a bit pointless my writing about them i suppose.

PeaceAndHope Mon 08-Apr-13 09:31:43

There are many private midwives and birthing centres. Furthermore, the NHS is so anti-intervention and pro-natural, that you may not even need to go private.

Private care has higher rates of epidurals and c-sections, because it's usually women like myself who use it- women who want the c-section and epidural. It doesn't mean they will force you to have it.

You're the one in control because you're paying. Unless it's a matter of life or death (in which case you'd be wise to listen to the doctors anyway), they won't be forcing anything on you. That's the advantage of private care- they don't bully you to accept interventions based on 'hospital policy'.

LaVolcan Mon 08-Apr-13 10:27:23

Peddling your own agenda PeaceAndHope. NHS pro-natural with a 25-33% CS rate as the norm? Could have fooled me.

Read the OP's post. She isn't pregnant yet, hence a private midwife won't be an option for her, because they won't exist after October, unless the insurance issue is sorted out.

'Furthermore, the NHS is so anti-intervention and pro-natural, that you may not even need to go private'


PeaceAndHope Mon 08-Apr-13 19:59:39


How much more "pro-natural" do you want them to be? Do you want all women to give birth at home with a 5% cesarean rate? Do you want the epidural rate to be down to zero?

Do you also oppose medically necessary cesareans? What in your opinion should an ideal cesarean rate be? Given the conditions for which a cesarean is medically necessary- breech baby, placenta previa, more than 2 prior cesareans, transverse baby, sometimes pre-eclampsia, in some cases twins...not to mention the inevitable cases of obstructed labour and fetal distress that arise in labour. Calculate the percentage of women with one or more of these medical factors and a 23% cesarean rate will not be shocking to you.
The NHS wants nothing more than to bring down the cesarean rates. Read the new RCOG guidelines. Read the innumerable threads started by women who are forced into VBACs. Read about tokophobic women who are denied cesareans. Read about the number of women who are told to labour at home until they reach at least 6 cm dilation because it's "better for them", even though they are in excruciating pain and want to be admitted to hospital for pain relief (this has happened to me so don't bother denying it). Read about the number of women denied epidurals by midwives.Only 30-33% of women manage to get an epidural while in labour.

NHS is anti-formula, anti-cesarean. They don't even give women the right to seek consultant led care- I was forced into midwife-led care even though there ideology completely differs from mine.
They promote midwives, breastfeeding, and any method of pain relief that isn't an epidural. Their policies revolve around reducing cesareans rates and epidural rates and increasing breastfeeding rates- at any cost, even denying women choice.

How much more of the NCB ideology do you want to see on the NHS?

We're forced to room-in no matter how knackered and exhausted we are after the birth, because they did away with nurseries a long time ago. We are unduly pressured to breastfeed. We are denied pain relief. We are even denied the right to choose a cesarean or often the right to refuse a VBAC. I don't see anything "pro-intervention" about that.

PeaceAndHope Mon 08-Apr-13 20:01:10


I'd bet my life savings that you're a midwife. Only a midwife or someone brainwashed by NCB ideology would balk at a 23% cesarean rate in this day and age. Good grief.

PeaceAndHope Mon 08-Apr-13 20:02:40

Why can't she pay for her own midwife? Women who want cesareans or guaranteed epidurals have to pay for it themselves because the NHS absolutely refuses to oblige us.

Very few NHS midwives have experience a truly 'natural' birth.

PeaceAndHope Mon 08-Apr-13 20:10:49

And what is a "truly natural birth"? Out in the woods with no fetal monitoring and no pain relief and no obstetrician? So that if something goes wrong, death is almost certain?

Honestly, wow. How much more "natural" do you want births to be without taking some serious risks? Besides why do you assume that this is an injustice? Did it strike you that many women might actually be OK with a medicalised birth?

What are you so angry about? I simply pointed out that there is practically no such thing as an intervention-free birth on the NHS, though some places do try their best, they have often miles and miles to go still.

PeaceAndHope Mon 08-Apr-13 20:30:16

Why do you think it's necessary or even safe for all women to have completely intervention free births? Why is that a goal? Isn't the goal a happy and healthy mother and baby? Does it matter how it's achieved or must it satisfy some agenda and ideology?

MOST places push for intervention free births and given how hard up the NHS is for money, they'll be damned before they use a resource unless it's absolutely necessary. My SIL was denied an ELCS even with two prior cesareans due to obstructed labour.

PeaceAndHope Mon 08-Apr-13 20:32:27

Anyway, I'm wary of your definition of 'intervention'. You probably think that even if they check the baby's heart rate or do some fetal monitoring if there are signs of distress, that's "unnecessary" intervention.
Are inductions at 42 weeks unnecessary too? What do you say when the NHS is forced to induce for medical reasons like a pregnancy that goes beyond 41 weeks or pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes? Do those interventions bother you too?

'Why do you think it's necessary or even safe for all women to have completely intervention free births?'

Who has said that?

So again:

Why are you so angry?


All I said was that the NHS is very unlikely to enable a truly 'natural', 'intervention-free' birth.

PeaceAndHope Mon 08-Apr-13 20:45:38

Firstly, that isn't true. And what is the purpose of that statement anyway?


Now can you answer My question?

LaVolcan Mon 08-Apr-13 22:43:48

Indeed PeaceAndHope - why are you getting so angry? You went and resurrected a whole load of old threads the other day.

I haven't said a word about medically necessary CSs (or any other), epidurals, etc.

BirthChoiceUK gave the following figures for Normal Birth:
England (2011) 41.8%
Scotland (2010) 37.6%
Wales & N Ireland it didn't give figures for.

So if the NHS (or those nasty evil midwives) are really pushing a normal birth agenda, the figures don't show them as being very successful.

BirthChoice defines normal birth thus:

"Normal birth", sometimes also described as "natural birth", "physiological birth" or "straightforward vaginal birth" can be defined as a birth where there has been no technological intervention. (Interventions may include inducing labour, and accelerating labour using drugs or by breaking the waters. It also includes using epidural anaesthesia, having an assisted delivery or a Caesarean operation.)

PeaceAndHope Mon 08-Apr-13 23:19:18


I am angry at the all-pervasive NCB ideology which is inherently unscientific and misogynistic.

The definition of normal birth does more harm than good. Are you telling women who have cesareans or inductions or epidurals that what they went through was abnormal and evil? How damaging is that?? What if women WANT pain relief and epidurals? Are you going to say sorry, we can't give it to you because we want to bring up the rates of what we believe is "normal" birth? When tokophobic women request cesareans are you going to refuse it based on the same flimsy excuse?

The NHS is most certainly pushing a natural birth agenda as is evidenced by the number of women who are fighting to get epidurals, cesareans and the women who are fighting to be able to refuse VBACs and being forced to labour at home.

41% normal births is huge. 41% of women in 2013 are giving birth with no medical intervention or pain relief. Unless you're waiting for a throwback to the 1800's, those stats seem fine to me.

So do you only support medically necessary cesareans and epidurals? Don't you think women have the right to request pain relief and refuse a VBAC?
Are you one of those NCB misogynists who wants women to grin and bear the pain of childbirth with no intervention and no pain relief even if they want it?

I am not interested in the stats for how often "normal birth" is or isn't happening. Those stats are pointless without a satisfaction poll. How many women are satisfied with the way they gave birth and what are the reasons behind that satisfaction or dissatisfaction?

The NHS leaves maternity care to midwives and is largely loathe to involve consultants and obstetricians. This comes directly from the NCB culture which idolises and glorifies normal birth whether women want it or not. And yes, I loathe midwives.

'Are you telling women who have cesareans or inductions or epidurals that what they went through was abnormal and evil?'

Oh yeah. I see Volcan doing this repeatedly on all of her threads hmm

Get a grip. You sound absolutely hysterical.

AFAICS, The NHS is actually pushing the cheapest way of giving birth and justifying it with research that shows an ideology they don't have the staff to actually deliver. So what happens is some kind of half-hearted denial of resource-intensive intervention antenatally and in early labour that a woman needs in the first place because of limitations on care meaning she and her needs are largely ignored until the actual birth when it is usually too late to avoid higher level interventions and complications which we thankfully have the technology to then address.

The NCB movement is about addressing this ^, not about refusing women who need pain relief drugs or their choices.

PeaceAndHope Mon 08-Apr-13 23:34:55

I haven't been living under a rock. I've been through this myself, I know what I'm saying.

The NCB movement is about shaming women who don't give birth "normally". Choices such as VBACs, water births, hypno births, etc are supported and choices such as epidurals, cesareans and inductions are not.

And are you seriously telling me that it's a piece of cake for women to be able to get pain relief on the NHS? I think it must be easier to get an appointment with David Cameron.

Even if women were admitted in the labour ward on time, if they went by your ideology it would make no difference. NCB doesn't believe in fetal monitoring. That brings you right back to interventions when it's too late.

Who are NCB anyway?

PeaceAndHope Mon 08-Apr-13 23:38:17

Natural Childbirth Movement or NCB movement. In other words, your friends.

What friends? My friends are parent of SN children predomentantly as I have a child who was a product of a mismanaged birth in a MLU centre after 6 hours screaming for an epidural that never came.

Who specifically do you mean? I think the NCB as you define it is in your imagination.

LaVolcan Mon 08-Apr-13 23:49:54

I fully agree with you Starlight: that's what I have gone on about on childbirth threads - the p*sspoor staffing levels which mean that women can't access any support until the latter stages of labour. Getting the appropriate level of support is just as important - so the woman who needs a CS getting fobbed off with an SHO because she had the misfortune to go into labour at the weekend when there is no consultant cover is being failed just as much.

I don't think it's those nasty evil midwives were the ones who were responsible for cutting staffing levels to the bone, or who decided to shut local maternity hospitals (for 'efficiency savings').

PeaceAndHope Tue 09-Apr-13 10:58:35


MLU don't provide epidurals. Surely you knew that?

The NCB as I define it is not my imagination. If you've ever attended an NCB class or spoken to some of the midwives that NHS hires, you'll know what I mean. Intervention=bad, homebirth=good, screaming in pain= good, formula=bad, breastfeeding=good.

Whatever your exaplanations for it may be, I think we can all agree that the NHS maternity care is a disaster.

EasterHoliday Tue 09-Apr-13 11:04:06

back to the original question... if that's your bag, find out where Gowri Motha now delivers - she ran her practice through Viveka / St John & Eliz. In fact if all that is up your alley, you'll find that Viveka in St Johns Wood still offer all the ante / post natal extras that went with the John& Lizzies package like hypnobirthing / classes / reflexology etc etc

'MLU don't provide epidurals. Surely you knew that?'

Of course I knew that. I was sent upstairs from the labour ward to the MLU as they were full they'd decided that I should could have a 'natural' birth. They refused to transfer me downstairs.

I was pushing a distressed baby for 2.5 hours with no contractions and interventions though very much needed them as there wasn't anywhere for me to go or anyone to help.

I've had 3 children. I have come across good and bad midwives. I would rarely say 'met' as I never saw the same one twice and appointments took less time than actually getting the notes out of my bag. Mostly though, the mw's I have come across are trying very hard to do their best for their clients with little time or appreciation and according to my cousin mw, in a bullying and blame-rife culture.


With ever pg, I had to fight against being given a sweep. In pgs subsequent to my 2nd, I had to fight against induction, against internal examinations, against a hospital birth and in my final pregnancy against glucose testing. I had to fight against premature cutting of the cord and in my final two pregnancies against disrupting the flow of hormones to enable efficient and effective expelling of the placenta (i.e. getting out of the pool or not holding my baby). I had to fight interventions all over the place despite the 3 DIFFERENT PCT's all claiming to be pro-natural birth.

What they are is pro-VB, because it is cheaper (supposedly) but from my experience and knowledge (and I have spent an awful lot of time researching this) the preferance is for an intervention-heavy VB.


It's a fight for a homebirth in many many places. There are so many contraindications which have nothing to do with safety, unless you call unconfident mw's unsafe.

screaming in pain= good,

Perhaps. But not because it is considered good, but because some pain-relief requires more attention. Though when I was denied pain relief I was also told to stop screaming.

Having said that, I never once screamed in my second two births despite having absolutely NO drugs, not even gas and air.


No-one ever says that. They are not allowed to. They World Health Organisation and Unisef advise the NHS (not sure who else should do it? Cow and Gate perhaps?) on the optimal food for infants. That is breastfeeding. Why on EARTH would a mw personally care, or even the NHS for any reason other than health. They have nothing directly to gain. They don't give formula any more.


Well it is factually correct from a nutritional point of view. They also advise on optimal nutrition for adults too.

timeforgin Tue 09-Apr-13 11:40:18

Erm sticks head above parapet I had a natural birth (what I consider to be a natural birth anyway) privately at the Chelsea & Westminster, on the Kensington Wing.

I wanted consultant led care as I am quite anxious and wanted to know I had an expert on hand in case anything went wrong. My goal was always a natural birth without an epidural if I could manage it; I wanted to experience the whole thing as naturally as possible.

The consultant I was with during my pregnancy didn't actually deliver my baby as he was on hols and babe came two weeks early, but his replacement was fantastic and was very pro natural birth.

My waters broke naturally around midnight (sent home after an exam)and I went from first contraction at 6:30am to fully dilated by about 11am, used gas and air during this time. I did have a monitor on because of waters breaking but I didn't find it restrictive and wasn't forced to stay on my back or anything mad like that. And I think it got taken off towards the end but can't remember (that's how much of an impact it had on my birth experience). Two hours of pushing, during which contractions slowed right down and I had some syntocinin on a drip, and then he finally popped out. In hindsight I wonder if I started pushing before my body was really ready - I never really felt the urge to push but during dilation/transition I was begging the consultant to examine me and tell me I was 10cm so I could start pushing.

Two stitches (she was in two minds whether to even bother), and I had the injection for the placenta which came out relatively quickly (no idea how long it actually took, didn't seem more than about 20 minutes).

No doubt someone will come on here and tell me that wasn't a natural birth. Wha'evah.

It was the best day of my life.

timeforgin Tue 09-Apr-13 11:51:16

Also I think it is a bit harsh to say 'NHS maternity care is a disaster', per PeaceandHope. I think it is obviously very hit and miss though.

One of my best friends had two wonderful births in the NHS bit of C&W - epidural for first but not for second (too quick!), both times baby took its time and came out with hand by its head, but came out safely (due to an expert senior midwife), only a few stitches both times.

Another of my NCT friends gave birth in the same hospital at a different, and very busy time of year. They had no rooms left so she gave birth in what was effectively a corridor.

Both friends have observed that it is the ante-natal care where the midwives were totally overstretched. Packed wards, barely any attention from midwives.

The NHS unit my sister gave birth in (way up North) is midwife led, has birthing pools and feels like a private hospital - very roomy, quiet, plenty of attention from midwives. You can choose how long you stay after the birth. To get that in London you have to pay £15k.

It is sad maternity care is not more consistent as it means women don't all get equal access to the best care, and obviously a totally overrun NHS maternity ward has different constraints and priorities than a private ward with abundant staff.

I don't know what the answer is to fix it.

PeaceAndHope Tue 09-Apr-13 12:13:35


Unless you're in the throes of labour you don't have to 'fight' against any intervention. When it comes to things like an induction and a sweep, you can simply refuse. How exactly will they force you to undergo either of those procedures? I had severe back ache and hyperemesis that lasted through the pregnancy. By 40 weeks I was in agony- I begged for a sweep or induction and they refused. I wasn't given one until 42 weeks. If they were pro-intervention, they'd have jumped at the chance to give me an induction wouldn't they?
If you're already 42 weeks, they will offer to start labour for you (as they should due to the risk of stillbirth), but they can't force you.

I can't understand why you'd want to "fight" against glucose testing, but that's your problem not the NHS's. They're just offering standard antenatal care. Hardly counts as an "intervention". Unless you want to spend a pregnancy with undiagnosed gestational diabetes....

Honestly, given your definition of what counts as "intervention", I'm hardly surprised at what you've been saying. You don't even want standard and basic safety measures like a sweep at 42 weeks or glucose testing. And then you claim not to be brainwashed by the natural birth movement.

Congratulations that you never screamed during your births. Unfortunately, some of us do feel the agonising, excruciating pain and hence we do want epidurals. (which we are never given)

If you think that the NHS is not anti-formula, you've been living under a rock. My midwife didn't listen to me when I said I was going to formula feed. She just pushed my gown aside, put the baby on my chest and started lecturing me about how to breastfeed. Since they didn't provide formula at the hospital unless there was a "medical reason" I was forced to breastfeed until I got home. My friends have all had similar experiences. They all felt bullied and pressured to breastfeed. Don't even get me started on what I feel about the NHS not providing formula to new mothers. They've sold out to the NCB and don't want to anger the masses of lactivists by providing formula to mothers who dare to choose differently.

If they want to "advise" us on the best way to feed the baby, they should stop at "advise" (which there is rather enough of on the internet anyway). They shouldn't resort to bullying and shaming.

PeaceAndHope Tue 09-Apr-13 12:15:22


I stand by what I said. NHS Maternity is a disaster. There is no respect for women and no respect for their choices. A couple of positive experiences mean nothing.

I cannot engage with such a selective, rude and biased poster. You will see from a good many of my posts here that I spent 6 hours screaming for an epidural during my first birth and you know that as you have already commented on it.

I think your problem with NHS midwives is less about them and more about you tbh.

PeaceAndHope Tue 09-Apr-13 12:29:31

My problem is with my choices being categorically refused- repeatedly.

Your problem OTOH is a glucose test and an induction which was offered as a routine at 42 weeks, which you just had to say "No" to.

If you were refused an epidural, so was I. So were billions of other women who had the misfortune of giving birth in an NHS hospital. And that's exactly what I'm angry about.

I cannot engage with such a brainwashed and unscientific mindset either.

Xenia Tue 09-Apr-13 13:41:52

The poster on the thread wants the best change of an intervention free birth. Many of do. The fact that some people want more intervention than the NHS will give them is a separate topic for another thread. In the UK there has been a much bigger problem with women suffering more intervention than they want, not vice versa.

I certainly preferred the private midwives as I felt in charge and yes of course my main aim was live twin births whatever the intervention but I wanted to make the choices, eg over whether they would induce at 38 weeks or let me carry on - they came naturally on exactly 40 weeks, my choice, informed choice.

It is not unscientific to say breastfeeding is better. It is better.

However most of us pro breastfeeding would not deny women access to formula milk.

PeaceAndHope Tue 09-Apr-13 13:51:08


Breastfeeding is better? In what way and for whom? How can you make such a sweeping generalisation? And how do you think women who had to formula feed feel when they read these kind of statements?

I didn't say breastfeeding was unscientific. I find the opinions of a lot of the NCB followers on mumsnet unscientific.

If you don't want a induction, a sweep, an epidural or a cesarean- the NHS will be secretly thrilled because it saves them loads of money. They offer it when they absolutely have to not because they want to. Refusing any medical treatment is an undeniable right. This isn't the USA where they'll get court orders to perform the treatment on you anyway.

It's also very easy to look back and say your intervention was "unnecessary" but you will never know for sure will you? Babies die due to lack of timely intervention and lack of care, not the other way around.

If you don't want something, just say no. The struggle is to fight for what you DO want. It's a struggle to fight for an epidural, an induction, an elective cesarean or to fight your way out of being forced into a VBAC. The problem on the NHS is women being denied the right to choose the interventions they want.

"In the UK there has been a much bigger problem with women suffering more intervention than they want, not vice versa."

A more untrue statement has never been uttered. You're lucky if you get any intervention at all. You're lucky if you get a bed on the ward FFS. Then when you get there, all they want you to do is to "take a bath".

This system keeps women as far away as they can from obstetricians, epidurals, cesareans and inductions and formula. How much more anti-intervention can they be??

PeaceAndHope Tue 09-Apr-13 13:54:04

To let your twins come naturally at 40 weeks is not a a "fight". To choose an elective cesarean for them at 38 weeks is the fight.

If they suggest an induction at 38 weeks, you just have to say "No" and go home. They can't chain you to a bed and do it anyway. Nor can they refuse you and turn you away when you arrive on the ward in active labour at 40 weeks.

Congrats on your informed choice, but spare me the drama about what a "fight" it was.

PeaceAndHope Tue 09-Apr-13 13:56:36

"However most of us pro breastfeeding would not deny women access to formula milk."

Oh how very generous of you. We were just waiting for your permission.

Oh my. I had to come back because I agree with Xenia and well, you have to come back if you agree with Xenia on something don't you?

PeaceAndHope Tue 09-Apr-13 14:05:24

Are you honestly arguing that it's easier to demand interventions than it is to refuse them? Are you quite mad?

And what do you agree with Xenia on? That she generously gave mums 'permission' to formula feed?

I repeat- This system keeps women as far away as they can from obstetricians, epidurals, cesareans and inductions and formula. How much more anti-intervention can they be??

I was forced to deal with midwives even though I wanted to see a consultant, refused an induction despite being in enormous pain and discomfort, forced into a natural birth, refused an epidural, forced to breastfeed, and denied my ELCS request the next time. Does this sound pro-intervention to you?

LaVolcan Tue 09-Apr-13 14:19:28

Same here Starlight - must be the first time for me too to agree with Xenia grin, but in this case I think she's spot on.

Poor OP - she asks for an opinion on the best option for a private birth. I can't offer any advice but wasn't there an obstetrician called Nick Wales whose wife had a homebirth? He would sound like a promising person to get in touch with.

Ah yes, just googled him, info here:

Hadassah Tue 09-Apr-13 14:23:54

I had a very good experience with Chelsea & Westminster, the Kensington Wing. I can really recommend it for natural delivery. I have never given birth at The Portland but I had an operation there and I think it is also very good.

Xenia Tue 09-Apr-13 14:26:24

I am almost certainly beyond my childbearing years so not sure why I ended up on the thread, but in general women have found it hard to resist interventions than to gain them in the UK, even going back tom the early 1960s when my mother was one of the UK's first NCT members it was quite a battle for her to get home from hospital when she wanted, to have later babies at home, to resist the compulsory shaving, enemas etc they did in those days.

With my own first NHS babies it was very hard to negotiate a six hour transfer. There was always resistance to NHS home births as they take up more money/resources. Formula is trust at people all over the place all over the planet although it is a little better in the UK than it used to be now. Even so we have the worst breastfeeding record of any EU state - in a sense we at the forefront of bottle feeding in the UK which is not best for babies.

If the NHS is refusing unnecessary epidurals and C sections for mothers who do not need them then that is all to the good. It is our money as full time working tax paying mothers what is being used to fund things.

No way is it easy to fight NHS intervention. It never has been. I do not remember its being very easy when I had my first children at all. it is not dead easy to say I will have this baby at home even if you tell me not to. Resisting monitoring and the like is not easy at all. I don't agree with the picture painted by some on the thread that it is harder to get intervention when it is not medically needed that it is to resist intervention you may not want although I was certainly comforted when i was pregnant with the twins with a recent court decision which said in labour you have the mental capacity to resist whatever you choose even if your child dies which is very good - woman's right before birth etc.

WouldBeHarrietVane Tue 09-Apr-13 14:32:31

Op, I wanted what you wanted and booked at st Thomas's landsell suite. They have pools. Eugene oteng-ntim is a pro natural birth consultant there. I found him very calm and pleasant - he arranged for two named mw to be 'my' mw.

Active birth centre in archway do good water birth prep courses.

There is a lovely yoga birth workshop at kings run by sittaram yoga.

I actually had a wonderful birth (9 lbs baby, labour in pool on gas and air) in a wonderful NHS unit in the end as we moved out of london but would opt again for st Thomas's if SE ever moved back.

WouldBeHarrietVane Tue 09-Apr-13 14:32:39

Not SE blush we

'And what do you agree with Xenia on? That she generously gave mums 'permission' to formula feed?'

Yes. What a star eh?

Have a look at the Edgeware Birthing Unit.

It was posher than any hotel I've ever stayed in and after an intervention-free waterbith, DH and retired in the room next door which had a double-bed for DH and I, underfloor heating, patio doors to a private garden and of course en-suite, as well as a controllable thermostat and glider feeding chair.

They would have let us out earlier if we'd wanted but it was 11pm by the time dd was born and we fancied a night just the three of us before heading home to ds.

PeaceAndHope Tue 09-Apr-13 15:54:57


"If the NHS is refusing unnecessary epidurals and C sections for mothers who do not need them then that is all to the good. It is our money as full time working tax paying mothers what is being used to fund things. "

May I remind you that as the woman requesting epidurals, I have also paid taxes into the system for the past 25 years. That isn't just YOUR money. It's my contribution too. And the sum total of that will far exceed the £200 an epidural costs.

It is misogynistic to expect women to give birth in agony if they want pain relief. As a tax-payer, I'd rather my money be used by a labouring woman in pain than by lazy teens who live on welfare and refuse to work.
It is equally misogynistic to force a survivor of sexual abuse to give birth vaginally if it is going to traumatise her just to save £800.

Why do you place such a low value on a birthing woman's rights?

'It is misogynistic to expect women to give birth in agony if they want pain relief.'

I don't disagree. However the issue, and women's rights are far more complex than that.

But can I ask you a question?

Why can't you just discuss the issue in a calm and rational way? Why do you have to scan a posters sincere post, find what they state are their values then push your own agenda ending with a comment about how going against you is going against their own values?

It makes you sound unhinged and like a playground bully.

PeaceAndHope Tue 09-Apr-13 18:04:19


Please elaborate on how women's rights are so complex that we need to give a second thought to providing adequate pain relief to birthing women, most of whom are taxpayers themselves. And even if they're not, I'd rather fund the pain relief than the counselling they will need for PTSD afterwards.

There is pain relief and anaesthesia available for almost every other procedure- both minor and major. And it's paid for by the NHS. When people insist on making an exception for childbirth, it makes them sound like they acknowledge all pain except that felt by a pregnant woman. That attitude is despicable.

Xenia Tue 09-Apr-13 18:10:52

I have never been in an NHS hospital which did not offer women epidurals when they need them. I have very often seen women pressured into more, not less intervention. I just do not recognise the picture here. If you had an unusual situation where you needed an epidural and it was not available or had psychiatric problems which mean you cannot accept a vaginal birth despite presumably raising it in pregnancy and obtaining a psychiatrist report in relation to it then that is very unfortunate but it does not describe what most women find - that it can be harder to obtain a natural birth and it is to have intervention.

I am not misogynist at all. Many women do not want epidurals and manage without in their births. I had one once. The other births I did not feel I needed or wanted one but found gas and air pretty helpful. I always found epidurals were something the NHS was more than happy to dole out. I don't think I was lucky or unusual. Obviously sometimes by the time someone asks for one medically it is too late but that is a different issue.

C sections are pretty awful surgery and plenty of women hope not to have them and most manage without . It is major surgery and nothing ilke as easy as a vaginal birth for most people.

PeaceAndHope Tue 09-Apr-13 19:11:17


It is quite evident that you are erm, older. You sound a bit like my grandma to be honest.

Pain relief is not about need, it's based on want. If I ask for an epidural, it's because I am in pain. That's reason enough to give me one.

Just because some women do fine without epidurals doesn't mean the rest of us should be denied pain relief. This isn't the 50's. On paper, all NHS hospitals are supposed to offer epidurals, but many of them don't. It's either ideological (they want to promote "normal" birth) or a cost-cutting measure. I don't know where and when you gave birth, but your experience is an outlier, not mine.

And as someone who has had a vaginal birth with a third degree tear which took me 18 months to recover from I can tell you with confidence that vaginal births don't always have an easy recovery and there is no way of predicting in advance which side of the coin you'll get.

My planned cesarean on the other hand was the easiest experience of my life. I was jogging at 4 weeks and having sex within 2 weeks.There was no pain 1 week post birth. Cesareans are NOT an awful surgery and your sweeping generalisations aren't helping anyone. Have you even had a planned cesarean yourself to speak so confidently about how awful it is?

Tokophobia affects 1 in 6 British women and numerous reports have suggested that the NHS is not supporting them enough. Numerous women have come on mumsnet to speak about how they have been denied the right to choose cesareans even if they have medical or psychological reasons.
This is NOT an unusual situation, it's far more common than you think.

It is absolutely bizarre to suggest that it is harder to refuse intervention on the NHS than it is to demand it. That either means that your definition of "intervention" is completely warped (ie; glucose tests are an "intervention" hmm) or you gave birth long ago and have no idea what current maternity services on the NHS are like.

If you don't want an epidural, induction, sweep, cesarean- great! All you have to do is say "NO". They cannot force a thing on you. If you do want it however, be prepared to grovel and you probably still won't get it.

Xenia Tue 09-Apr-13 21:14:09

You had a bad time.
I'm not that old. My children just left prep school.

I think if there is no medical reason then the NHS should not be funding C sections and if people want them they should get off their bottoms and earn the money to pay for them.

Pain relief is different. Most women are not denied it.

If someone has a genuine psychiatric condition and fear of giving birth (not the usual worrying every woman on the planet has about giving birth) then they heed to obtain a psychological report and that can be submitted to make a case for a C section. I suspect if it is as high as 1 in 6 then we need a lot more education of teenage girls to realise how awful C sections are compared to vaginal births and it would be a shame if they have been conditioned into thinking using your body in the wonderful way for which it is made were something so many teenager girls think is yuck and wrong.

I have never heard ANYONE say that pain relief should be denied.

I'm angry with the stalling midwives who tried to keep me going despite my begging for an epidural, but know full well that it was because there just were not the resources. They should have listened more and transfered me but it might have been a hard call to make if they thought I was close to giving birth and they 'may' have judged it would be better for me to stay and be in pain jabbed with pethedine that makes me LOOK like I am more calm, than transfer me for an epidural.

Perhaps my begging appeared to me, more desperate than it appeared to them.

I don't know. I do know that I will never ever get over the experience and I blame my ds' neurological disability on the way I was dealt with on that day.

A c/section may well have prevented what happened to him. So too would have proper care and management I believe.

My ideal would be that less woman ASKED for epidurals due to not needing them through good education and support and being equiped to cope well with labour, and then everyone who did still ask, getting one immediately and without delay.

DaisyBug Wed 10-Apr-13 18:19:36

What a great twin birth story Xenia. That's so funny about them being born in different birth districts.

We live in Elstree, just on the Hertfordshire border, so could get to The Portland or any of the west London private wings fairly easily.

Watford General has a private wing but that basically just provides more comfortable accommodation from what I gather, rather than a difference in medical care.

Re: Edgware Birth Centre, yes, that would be a wonderful option and very local. The only thing that puts me off is that a friend was recently turned away during labour because they were full.

WouldBeHarrietVane Wed 10-Apr-13 18:29:00

Daisy, maybe don't rule out st Thomas's as it may be the same driving time as w London - I stalkerishly just checked on google maps smile

I know starlight and others had a great experience at edgeware, but we visited and a few things put me off:

- high rate of transfer for first time mums
- the hospitals you transfer into often close their maternity units
- they have moved the unit several times within the hospital and I found the current unit a bit depressing and dingy.
- their criteria are so strict that they won't take you if you go much overdue or have low iron etc etc so you could easily book there and not be able to give birth, leaving you a bit stranded.

The staff were lovely and they have lots of pools iirc and good kitchen facilities. So nice your partner can stay with you, but the above things put me off.

Xenia Wed 10-Apr-13 18:29:04

Yes, the twins like the story too. They were born 7 hours apart at exactly 40 weeks and were always happy, the happy babies, perhaps because I took the decision they would not be induced at 38 weeks and they had 2 more weeks of calm and putting on weight inside me. It illustrates how you cannot predict labour. I have never even heard of anyone having two separate 5 - 7 hour labours in one day for two twin births. I had only heard of you have one twin and the other comes out right after and I had read a load of books on twin births but I was very lucky. I had two private midwives at home. I could have got to any number of hospitals quickly when one was needed and although there was manageable pain I did not feel it got too much. I liked feeling in charge. I decided when I was fed up of trying at home for twin two. It was my decision and I wanted a drip by that point to speed up twin 2 in hospital and my decision to get back to our house the same night. I am sure 4th births will always be easier than most first births.

I am very sad that some women on this thread had a horrible time but I still do not believe most births on the NHS deny women epidurals except if they are asking for them at 9 cm dilated when it's too late. No system is perfect but we are terribly lucky to have the NHS. Most countries don't and even with its imperfections it tends to work fine for most parents.

I heard good things about Edgware birth centre too. I know Elstree - one of my daughters went to Habs and the other NLCS.

There were interviews on women's hour of grand mothers, their daughters and granddaughters all who had given birth and even 50 years one women still remember the births of children, defining moments for us all and it must be horrible to have a birth which traumatises you although I suppose even then given how many women die giving birth in many countries NHS care even at its worst is much much better than plenty of women endure.

HolidayArmadillo Wed 10-Apr-13 18:40:50

PeaceandHope, you seem so angry, maybe you need to talk to somebody about your experiences? I have to say I don't recognise the picture you're painting, where I work the only reason you might not get an epidural is because the anaesthetic team is busy elsewhere (ie saving another mother and babies life potentially) or because its contraindicated for you personally (which would have been discussed well beforehand). I have a policy of never offering pain relief, but I tell all women what their options are and that when they feel they need it all they have to do is ask and we can talk about what they would prefer.

Water births pushed on the NHS? The last place I worked before now the pool was used to store the birthing balls.

Home births pushed on the NHS? Personally I had my on call cancelled for spurious reasons and I had to fight, yes fight, to get it reinstated and I believe I was only successful because I knew the system and who to contact.

Inductions refused until 42 weeks? Try telling that to our induction midwife who performs on average 5-10 inductions per day, many for maternal request or 'social reasons'.

Hospital based midwifery has huge intervention rates so I find it baffling that you deny this. We get a lot wrong but we also get a lot right.

Xenia Wed 10-Apr-13 18:47:34

Yes, HolidayA same here. I had an awful negotiation when I was only 22 and wanted a home birth for baby 1 and we compromised on a 6 hour transfer - birth in NHS hospital and home that day which was okay but I certainly never felt the NHS was pushing mothers towards home births.

Same with inductions - had I been on the NHS they would have induced the twins at 38 weeks, no question and I researched that etc and wants to take the risk of having them later which was safe as they were being monitored regularly by my midwives.

'- they have moved the unit several times within the hospital and I found the current unit a bit depressing and dingy.'

What do you mean? I thought it was a stand alone unit in it's own building.

I agree about the transfer hospitals though. I wasn't too keen on the idea of being transfered to Barnet.

Chunderella Sat 13-Apr-13 16:54:58

Do you have any evidence for your claim that in the UK there has been a much bigger problem with women having unwanted intervention than vice versa, Xenia? I mean actual evidence, not anecdote: clearly it is valid for women to share our experiences but I'm sure we all know that it has its limitations in terms of analysing what actually goes on. Lest anyone should think me biased, I refused a sweep at term and syntocin during a prolonged latent phase, the latter meeting with more disapproval than the former. I was then denied the epidural that I begged for, so spent a lot of time labouring without pain relief, and consented to syntocin and ventouse during the delivery. So I have experience with both refusing and being refused intervention, and of undergoing intervention. There, that should tick enough boxes with both sides!

Oh, I don't say this to have a dig, but having read many of your posts I've an idea how old your DC are, indeed I think your eldest is about my age. By my recollection, you had your youngest around the millennium or so. Well, maternity services have become rather more stretched since the last time you did it. There have been baby booms, and also women have been giving birth whilst older, bigger and more ill than when you first started. Obviously this doesn't invalidate what you have to say, but do please consider that things are very different now from how they were in the mid 80s and even perhaps in the early noughties. There were some stats posted here the other week, possibly by Shagmund suggesting that one eighth of women did not receive adequate and timely pain relief during labour. About 600,000-650,000 women give birth in the UK every year. You're looking at 50k as a minimum. We're a big group.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Sat 13-Apr-13 17:31:39

I had a natural birth, used the bath, pool, gym ball etc at St Thomas' home from unit. On the NHS. You don't have to go private to achieve this. My midwife was lovely.

Are you paying or using health insurance? If the latter then check what it covers. You can never assume you'll have a normal delivery with no intervention.

Does it matter if intervention is needed? It's not a competition. The most important thing is that mum and baby are safe and well.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Sat 13-Apr-13 17:34:54

*Home from Home unit, I meant.

WouldBeHarrietVane Sat 13-Apr-13 22:51:50

Pobble, St Thomas's are so popular they now have a very strict catchment rule for NHS patients.

If I could have got in there on the NHS I would, but I was out of catchment. Afaik it is pretty much the best rated NHS maternity unity in central London.

There are very definite risks to an NHS birth in central London, including the hospital being full, reduced mw presence during the labour (one mw between several labouring women) etc etc

WouldBeHarrietVane Sat 13-Apr-13 22:55:20

Starlight, when I went the unit had recently moved to a new building on the cottage hospital site and the unit rooms were also being used by the antenatal care team for routine appointments. My tour was in spring 2011 and they told us then it was their third building on the site.

Pobblewhohasnotoes Sun 14-Apr-13 08:31:28

I was out of catchment but still gave birth there, this was last year. You do have the right to choose which hospital you give birth in, although yes St Thomas' are popular they will consider out of area patients depending on capacity.

BoffinMum Sun 14-Apr-13 08:50:57

I had babies in 1987, 1998, 2001 and 2009.

In 1987 services seemed pretty old fashioned. I recall even being offered an enema and a shave (which I declined in disgust). Hospitals were dirty, staffing levels low, epidurals hard to come by, and you had to make a fuss to get a HB.

1998 was a bad year in London and maternity services were in meltdown. I ended up having an independent mw for a HB after I was nearly admitted for pre eclampsia by the NHS after some random frazzled mw mixed up my noted with someone else's.

2001 I had moved to Cambridge and had an NHS HB of the same high standard as the 1998 independent one in London.

2009 baby boom meant I was initially badly neglected by the NHS, really badly, and I had to go private again, although I did see an NHS consultant once a month because of complications, with my independent mw in attendance.

Ultimately it is a numbers game. If it's a busy time, care often suffers. If it's quieter, you get an excellent standard of care from the NHS. That's what needs addressing - managing peaks and troughs.

WouldBeHarrietVane Sun 14-Apr-13 11:46:18

Did you have your baby in the Rosie in 09 Boffinmum?

BoffinMum Sun 14-Apr-13 17:13:26

No, at home but under care of indi mw and Rosie consultant called Alison something.

WouldBeHarrietVane Sun 14-Apr-13 17:17:11

Would you mind pm-ing me with the name of the mw? I have just moved to near Cambridge and am worried about the Rosie.

BoffinMum Sun 14-Apr-13 18:04:20

Have done so Harriet.

WouldBeHarrietVane Sun 14-Apr-13 19:38:28

Thank you very much!

TheNewShmoo Sun 14-Apr-13 22:49:08

Caesarean rates were less than 3% in the 1950's - not an age typified of women/babies dying in childbirth either. I don't suspect as a species we have biologically devolved that much with regards to our capacity for natural childbirth in the space of 60 years for the 'normal' rate to jump so massively to 25-33%? hmm

Unfortunately our NHS hospitals are at full capacity and labour needs to be run on a tight schedule. If you are not dilating at an 'acceptable' rate of 1 cm per hour you will come under pressure to have things sped up. At a birth centre (which should be pro-natural) I had to really fight: against having an internal in the middle of transitioning (there was no reason for any worry), to have extended time with the cord uncut and left pulsating, and the right to naturally birth the placenta. I was booted out of the (lovely) room an hour after the birth so I guess this was why! But all these things aside, it was still a great experience.

TheNewShmoo Sun 14-Apr-13 23:02:37

Sorry that first sentence appears callous- I don't mean you have to be dying to qualify for a c-section!

BoffinMum Sun 14-Apr-13 23:19:07

We have more sections partly because mothers are a lot older on average now, I have heard.

TheNewShmoo Sun 14-Apr-13 23:35:14

Yes that's true and I guess lifestyle changes etc, but not sure that would explain such a massive rise in rates? Think change in psychology and how childbirth is perceived, but that's very much affected by policy also.

Chunderella Mon 15-Apr-13 09:22:06

Whether it explains the big rise in rates is the $64,000 question TheNewSchmoo. None of us know the answer, because the current state of affairs is unprecedented.

LaVolcan Mon 15-Apr-13 09:39:19

CS's rates have rocketed since the 1980s when they were about 8%, and yet I don't think the mortality rates have changed much at all since then.

HarderToKidnap Mon 15-Apr-13 09:58:18

A friend I qualified with works on the midwife bit at the Portland, you can book directly there I think and have totally midwife-led care, pools, etc the lot. There are only, I think, 4 midwives there and you meet and get to know them all and two of them present at your birth. Friend loves it.

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