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UCH, Whittington or Homerton - views sought

(10 Posts)
jewelsandbinoculars Tue 07-Jun-11 14:55:57

I am 6 weeks pregnant. This is my first pregnancy, and it feels surreally, ridiculously early to be thinking about birth. But I saw my GP this morning and she wants me to pick a hospital asap because I?m off on hols next week and it would be apparently be pushing things to leave a referral till we get back. I am in N1 (Hackney/Islington) so as far as I understand it my choices are UCH, the Whittington or Homerton.

I have an uninformed erring towards wanting to minimise intervention and stay active. Having a realistic opportunity to labour/birth in water definitely feels quite important to me ? I really like water. BUT I have had enough friends give birth to know that my idealistic musings do not mean that I won?t be mooing for an epidural when/if it comes to it.

I would be really really grateful if anyone who has recent experiences of North London hospitals ?and particularly the birth centres attached to those above ? could take a little time to share their recommendations or otherwise with me. I know that people have asked this question before and I will be looking at old threads too, but my guess is that a typical experience in a particular location may change quite quickly, as popularity grows/wanes etc, so I thought worth at least asking if people have current views they might share with me.

Thanks all in advance.

sprinkles77 Tue 07-Jun-11 15:25:52

I had DS (now 15 months) at the whittington where they were fine. I had hoped to use their lovely birthing centre, but it didn't work out that way. My SIL had her DS last week at the birthing unit there. It's lovely and they were great with her. She would have used the birthing pool, but was already ready to push when she got there so no time to fill the pool. She then had a bad tear (I think cos baby came out sooo fast and had an elbow at a funny angle) and lost lots of blood(not sure if due to tear or not), and was straight up to theatre for repair. A nasty situation handled well. I would recommend Whittington, and will go back if I am lucky enough to get pregnant again. You need to book in somewhere in order to get your 12 week scan on time. However, you can change hospitals should you wish.
A friend who had twins 2 weeks ago started off at UCH and moved to whittington.
Just bear in mind that whittington does not have top level neonatal ICU. So if your newborn is very ill and has to be moved (usually to UCH or GOSH), and you are too ill to be moved then you could get separated. Unlikely. At the Whittington the antenatal clinics, labour ward, the birthing suite and the post natal wards are all staffed by different midwife teams. There is little continuity of care. The doctors work on all the departments, but you may not see the same one twice (if at all if all goes well).
As an aside, I have had poor feedback regarding the Royal Free, and mixed from UCH. BTW, you can go wherever you want, my GP offered me Barnet or Royal Free, and I asked for whittington which was fine with her.

cardamomginger Tue 07-Jun-11 15:50:18

The MW led birthing centre at the Whittington is lovely. The ante and postnatal wards are dire.

squiggleywiggler Tue 07-Jun-11 16:57:49

Am copying my post from another thread as am dashing about today:

I had my first (and thus far only) baby via the Homerton homebirth team - brilliant!

As a doula I've attended births on the labour ward and the birth centre as well as homebirths via Homerton. Though of course (like any hospital) there are a broad cross-section of staff in general I've found in to be:
-nice atmosphere
-friendly and helpful
-really good facilities
-lovely birth centre

The postnatal wards aren't great (but they aren't anywhere) but unlike UCLH if you can get a side room it's 'inly' £70/night as opposed to £250.

I've got some Homerton birth stories on my website:

If you're planning to birth at the birth centre do have a think about homebirth. They have some of the most experienced MWs on the HB team - it's a new team and they are flaming brilliant. There's a great homebirth support group in Hackney here:

Sorry to go on about homebirth but I talk to so many second-timers who wish they'd gone for it first-time around and lots of first-timers who with the right info end up deciding to go for it, that I just can't help myself

Mars Tue 07-Jun-11 17:05:11

Like squiggley, I've done births at all of the hospitals. In personal order of preference:


The Whit and Homerton both have gorgeous Midwifery Led Units. They are both very good hospitals and my ladies have had good experiences there. I prefer The Whit over Homerton because of the breastfeeding support. It's not good at Homerton, many a bottle is given. I prefer them both over UCH because it is a very busy teaching hospital.

I wouldn't worry too much about the neonatal units, I have had clients moved from UCH due to lack of space and they have had to travel right across London. The Whittington neonatal unit is lovely as is the one at the Homerton.

Again I can only echo Squiggley when she talks about homebirth. Gorgeous.

hth smile

jewelsandbinoculars Tue 07-Jun-11 18:00:25

Aw, thanks to all who've posted so far - really helpful/informative. Much appreciated.

Sorry too for the random ?'s in my OP (posting from work so attempted a sly cut and paste from word).

I'd seriously think about a homebirth if my circumstances were different but its really not that feasible for me - I live on a narrowboat and there would be all sorts of overall space and accessibility and lack-of-proper-size-bath issues to factor in...!

squiggleywiggler Tue 07-Jun-11 18:09:34

There was a story in our last doula newsletter about someone having their second homebirth on a narrowboat...

hackneyzoo Tue 07-Jun-11 18:31:00

I had dc3 at homerton in mlu 4 months ago and they were excellent. Basically the facilities were great, I hadn't looked round before as was planning a HB, but everything was spotless and brand new. very different from wen I looked round a few years ago last time I was pregnant.
The rooms were spacious and private, with a double bed, sofa, arm chair, bean bags, birthing ball, birthing pool and shower and toilet en suite. The lights could be dimmed and there was a place for music/ipods...I was shock and grin... much better than my font room where I had planned to give birth!
The MW really listened to me and was very hands off, she left me and DP to it and offered support when needed.
I was completely impressed with all the staff post pre, during and post birth.
Te ante natal ward was completely different from what I expected, I had heard horror stories, but it was clean and well staffed, all be it rather noisy.
DD ended up on SCBU for a few days and I couldn't fault the Drs and nurses there either.
So all in all a pretty good experience!

cardamomginger Tue 07-Jun-11 18:41:29

Another point - you can self refer for maternity care. And you can change your mind and switch hospitals - and self refer to do that too.

vallinnapod Tue 07-Jun-11 19:12:13

Just posted this on another thread:

Hi All,

I am at UCH and cannot fault it so far. Uncomplicated pregnancy but have still be offered the chance to see a consultant due to the fact it was an IVF (single) pregnancy. Turned this down. Haven't waited longer than 20 mins of my scan appts (12 and 20 weeks) Midwives have been great (Oak Team), albeit a different one every time so far but I expected as much. When I was (and still am really) worried about my excessive hairloss they sent me to the homeopathic hospital which was a great experience on a number of levels - OK so hair still falling out, but they offer a number of lunchtime talks on various aspects of pre and post natal care and labour and the use of homeopathic remedies. Interesting if nothing else.

Have called the midwives at the hospital twice with neurotic queries and they were quick at answering them, suggesting I come in to the FMU if I was really worried about anything.

Mentioned home birth in passing to them. It was never a really serious consideration for us (moving back to parents!) but they were incredibly supportive of the idea.

If things continue as they do I hope to give birth in the BBC. So will feedback then - if I remember

Due on 4th Sept

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