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Birthing centre Barkantine /East London hospitals - experiences

(18 Posts)
mrsfoxglove Mon 09-Jun-14 21:52:45

Hi... I'm 7 weeks pg and thinking about options, my doctor said I need to choose which hospital to see my midwife and give birth. This would be my first child hoping all goes well (1 previous MC earlier this year which happened while I was in another county so went to the local hospital there)

In my area (east Central London) I believe the options are Homerton or Royal London, she also mentioned a new birthing centre in the Isle of Dogs called Barkantine. I'm wondering if any ladies can share their experiences in any of these or if you have any advice on choosing? It seems a bit of a minefield to me I'm not even sure of the process, do I need to choose before my 12 week scan? Is the birthing centre just somewhere I would literally go to give birth or would I have other appointments there?

Thank you in advance smile

AMI88 Mon 09-Jun-14 22:58:08

Hey im also in East london currently 8weeks pregnant with dc1!

Homerton is very close to me, and a lot of my work colleagues have all had their babies there and were very happy! They also have a great selection of midwives who can do home births (apparently)

I am under the assumption, although I may be wrong, that you have to decide before 12weekscan, but do check with your GP.

I haven't looked into birthing centres myself, so can't help you there, sorry this isn't a very helpful reply! haha

TheFace Tue 10-Jun-14 07:24:39

Hiya, I'm 36 weeks and live in East London. I've done tours of both and the Barkentine is actually my Drs surgery also. Due to complications I have no choice but to give birth at the London. I'm not happy about it as I would of loved to give birth at the Barkentine.

The Barkentine is a midwife only unit and they have no pain relief apart from gas and air and peffadin. There are no doctors there so if something starts to go wrong or they become concerned then they will blue light you straight to the royal London, which takes about 3 minutes.
Don't let this put you off as they are obviously trained in spotting the complications early. They also won't accept you if they feel at 36 weeks you'll have a complicated birth. The centet itself is gorgeous. A very peaceful atmosphere, double beds, you partners can stay as long as you do, you've never moved around from ward to ward and as many visitors as you like. It's like a nice hotel.

The Royal London, well, I've not given birth there yet butadt week I though my waters had broke. Went to the London, was left in a hallway with other women who were clearly in labour for 2 hours before being put in a room (btw all the doors were open so I could hear everything from the other rooms) then it took another 3 hours to be seen, which was a 5 minute check. Shambles. I'm aware they're busy etc but I wasn't impressed and it's made me very nervous to be giving birth up there.

I would say to go on tours of both to get a good impression and find out what you feel comfortable with. I will say that on the tour of the London DH and I felt like it was more of a sales pitch for their private rooms (£90 a night) and it was also very rushed.

But personal opinion is the Barkentine is much nicer, it just depends what you are looking for to make you more comfortable during labour. Homerton was never an option for me as I live on the Isle of Dogs but I have some friends who have given birth there, the reviews are pretty much the same as the London.

AMI88 Tue 10-Jun-14 09:14:47

TheFace- you've made the Barkentine sound amazing- unfortunately, it is too far for me. I wander if there is another birthing centre closer to me...I will have to do my research! I must admit I just took it for certain that I would go to my local hospital! X

Lara44 Tue 10-Jun-14 14:42:06

Hi I'm 38 weeks and hoping to go to the Barkantine if all proceeds well. It feels friendly and cosy which I preferred to the Royal London. Partners can stay which was really important to us. I am a bit worried about possible transfer time / disruption if something goes wrong but hoping it will not come to that!

The feedback I've heard from others birthing at Royal London is that it's excellent medically but postnatal care can be a bit hit and miss. Saying that Tower Hamlets has a separate system of bf support workers that also do home visits so maybe it's not so important <naive first timer here>?

I have heard good things about the Homerton and I think they have a midwife unit which is on site? Not sure about how care works cross-borough as Homerton is Hackney and RL / Barkantine Tower Hamlets.

Barkantine only take low risk pregnancies, for example I was a bit anaemic and had to get those iron levels up to pass the 'risk assessment'.

Fingers crossed good experiences for all of us!

whatsagoodusername Tue 10-Jun-14 15:23:29

The Barkantine is wonderful. I tried twice to give birth there!

I was low risk for birth one, but waters broke too early and they sent me off to the Royal London. It was horrible in comparison, but I know they have a new maternity ward and is supposed to be much better.

Second baby, I managed to have baby at the Barkantine. It was lovely and quiet and had two midwives throughout the process. Baby was born with no more than usual trouble, but unfortunately placenta did not detach and I had to be rushed by ambulance to the Royal London.

The midwives were great. They were calm and as a result, I was calm. In fact, I didn't even realise how serious it was. It was very matter-of-fact: "We can't do this here, you'll have to go into theatre."

Ambulance arrived very quickly and medics checked me, then I was strapped into a wheelchair and taken down to the street past the crowd of pregnant women who were there for the tour! and into the ambulance. Transfer was very quick and efficient.

Midwife came with us, stayed with me in theatre, and into post-theatre recovery.

In spite of two less than ideal outcomes for me, I wholeheartedly recommend the Barkantine. I'd use it again if I had another DC and they accepted me after last time!.

Trapper Tue 10-Jun-14 16:21:08

It's about 10 mins for a blue-light transfer to The London from the Barkentine - not three.

Frazzaboo Tue 10-Jun-14 16:42:12

Hi, 34 weeks pregnant and living in Tower Hamlets.

The Barkantine would be my first choice for a second pregnancy but for the first baby, with a 33% rate of transfer to the Royal London, I did not take the risk.
So far I found that the Royal London has been great, the tour we were given by Anika was 1 hour and 30 minutes long, on Thursday evening at 5.30pm.
They are very informative with labour rooms quite roomy, well equipped and the midwifes seem to be open minded to your choices for labour... (I am planning an hypnobirth).

We also did a Sunday antenatal course there and again we were really pleased with the content of the course. You can book a private room but it will not be charged until you have actually used it, no sale pitch there, it sounds very good, your partner can stay with you and I was actually surprised how quiet the delivery suites were! Some were busy but the corridors were peaceful. My midwife is also from the Royal London team and comes to my GP very Wednesday, she has been great so far and very helpful. No complain yet...

MummytoMog Tue 10-Jun-14 17:15:37

Homerton was pretty horrid four years ago - I hear it's improved since then. Do you have the option of Whipps? I loved the midwife led unit there, and it's nice and close to the doctors (floor above) if you need them.

whatsagoodusername Tue 10-Jun-14 17:33:58

If you do decide to go with the Barkantine, do go and inspect the local hospitals as well. I did not, because my entire birth plan for DS1 centred on NOT BEING IN THE HOSPITAL. That was my only thought on birth plan had very recently spent several months in a hospital room with my father and was traumatised.

It didn't work out. We hadn't gone to view the hospital because I WAS NOT GOING. So I got sent there, in labour, with no idea where I was going or what would happen. It made things worse. We had no idea where to park and DH had to leave me in a wheelchair in A&E while he found a place to park. Then navigate the hospital. It was very stressful, on top of birth no longer going to plan due to being in the hospital.

Barkantine can and will refuse to admit you up to the point of being in labour, even if you pass their 36 week check, and ship you out if they feel you are becoming too high risk. So check out your local hospital or alternative as well.

AMI88 Tue 10-Jun-14 17:44:13

I'm hoping for the few bad stories about homerton, there are many many. Many more positives, as that's likely where I will go!

Mitchell2 Tue 10-Jun-14 20:31:54

39 weeks pregnant, first baby and if all goes to plan will be barkentine otherwise it will be the royal london. Did tours of both, so am comfortable either location. I know people booked into the homerton and whips who both are happy with choices.

From what I can tell generally the labour is fine but most hospitals it's the postnatal that sucks!

mrsfoxglove Wed 11-Jun-14 07:33:51

Hi ladies, thank you all so much for sharing your stories, all really interesting to read! Lots of information here.

The Barkantine sounds pretty lovely, I think you've sold it to me! grin However it's a shame that there are so many bad experiences at the Royal London when that is where you end up going should you need any medical assistance.

TheFace your experience there sounds horrible hmm when was that? I wonder if it was before or after the revamp? AMI88 congrats to you and I'd love to know which you end up choosing.

I didn't know you could do tours, that sounds like a very sensible thing to do to help make a decision. Do you just phone and book an appointment?

mrsfoxglove Wed 11-Jun-14 07:38:35

TheFace I've just re-read your post and saw that this happened a week ago! Oh dear! I hope that was a one off and that everything goes smoothly for the birth.

Mitchell2 Wed 11-Jun-14 07:53:19

The barkentine you need to phone to book, the royal you just show up, Thursdays I think at 5? Check the nhs website. Good luck!

VioletGoesVintage Wed 11-Jun-14 07:59:47

I had my first baby at the Royal London. I was booked into the Barkantine and, in fact, managed to stay there throughout labour but had to be transferred to the Royal when baby got stuck. The Barkantine was great - this was when it had just opened in 2008 - and, medically, so was the Royal.

However the midwife I was allocated when I first arrived at the Royal was, at best, disinterested and, at worst, rude. The post-natal "care" was abysmal: filthy ward, no food or water offered after birth, no BF-ing care (I was discharged even though it said in my notes that baby "was not interested" in feeding aka hadn't fed).

Thankfully the Barkantine helped us sort out BFing and we had all our post-natal care there. Had I still been in London I'd have tried to have my subsequent DC there too.

The Royal has recently been rebuilt (as you must know) so should be in a better physical state. Don't know about the midwives though. Suspect it depends how heavily they rely on agency staff. Do go and look around it. As a PP said, there's a reasonable chance, as a first-timer, that you'll be transferred there.

Oh, and I think currently you can't book into the Barkantine until you're 36 weeks (and low risk). I don't know if this means you need to have booked into the Royal rather than, say, Homerton, beforehand.

Sorry for essay. Cripes...must get off MN!

Lara44 Wed 23-Jul-14 14:12:28

Hi I wanted to come back and say that I did manage to give birth at the Barkantine 5 weeks ago today, and had a great experience (well as great an experience as labour possibly can be!!).

I went in after a day's contractions at home and was found to be only 1cm and sent packing (GUTTED). Three and a half hours later I went back and was 7cm. I used the pool and gas and air for pain relief. I had a lovely, experienced mw stay with me the whole time. She was very calm and professional. As a panicking FTM I was so glad not to be left at all during labour, it was very reassuring to have her there. Lots of monitoring of the baby's heartbeat using a doppler. During the pushing phase there was a second midwife, who was also super nice. She was very supportive in the final stages. I did get a second degree tear - I was standing up and wasn't able to control the pushing well when my boy was crowning. It was stitched up nicely on site and looks the part (not yet road tested though(!)). I think being far from the Royal London does mean you have to go for it without much pain relief because it's a faff getting transferred.

Post-natal care was good, they didn't really "teach" me things (like bf-ing), in the way that I expected, it was more seeing how we got on and giving advice. I could have as much or as little advice as I wanted, and just had to ask. It made a big difference having my OH there, as it felt like starting our family life all together. It was good just going into one room together and being able to stay there until discharge instead of being moved about. We stayed overnight for the delivery and a second night before being discharged but probably could have stayed a bit longer. They did leave us alone to have family time after the birth which was important to us.

I chose the Barkantine because I'm freaked out a bit by hospitals and especially by the sheer scale of the Royal London (although the new building is very nice). I liked the cosiness of the Barkantine and one-to-one care that I got there. The mws were kind, which was good because I felt pretty vulnerable. At times they were more no-nonsense which was okay too. I found the Tower Hamlets care to be great overall, which I was pretty surprised about as London maternity services get slated.

Anyway good luck Mrsfoxglove and any others choosing, I hope you have good experiences whatever you choose.

L00p Mon 28-Jul-14 23:51:00

Hi, I live in Newham and 17 weeks pg. I actually telephoned Barkantine today to arrange a tour and they told me to call back after my 20 week scan and so I definitely don't think you need to decide where you're going to give birth before 12 weeks

My other option is Newham General which I've heard has been renovated recently. I also got the option of a Barking standalone midwife led unit.

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