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Public or Private Hospital? What did you choose?

(84 Posts)
LondonT Fri 01-Jul-11 10:36:40

Hi Mums, I need your help please. My husband and I are deciding between registering with Private Care for childbirth, or using the NHS facilities. My husband thinks £10K is an insane amount of money to pay for "normal" childbirth (we have private medical insurance, but it doesn't cover "normal" pregnancy). His rationale is that if there are any complications, then our private medical insurance would kick in. I, on the otherhand, think of course one would go the Private route if one could afford it. I want to have one Consultant care for me throughout my pregnancy. This is my first pregnancy, and the benefit and trust gained through regular and stable care from one medical professional is something I really want.

But, please tell me Mums, am I being unreasonable here? Is my husband right? Is Public care just as good as Private?

piprabbit Fri 01-Jul-11 10:40:18

If you have a normal pregnancy and are low risk then you won't get to see a consultant at all on the NHS. Your local midwifery team will look after you.

Personally, I would think that is a good thing - but suspect you may feel differently.

malinois Fri 01-Jul-11 10:44:24

Why would you need a consultant to look after you (assuming no complications)? Being pregnant isn't a disease.

ShatnersBassoon Fri 01-Jul-11 10:51:23

Just pay if that's what you want.

ajmama Fri 01-Jul-11 10:51:34

OP you are not being unreasonable the difference between NHS care and Private is night and day. On the NHS you will be lucky to see the same midwife twice and some of the experiences posted on here are barbaric. If you can afford it then go for it!

MisSalLaneous Fri 01-Jul-11 11:02:55

I went private due to medical reasons (easier to see consultant when private etc etc).

I think the actual operation would most likely be just as good on NHS, so you're paying for the before and aftercare. Most really good private consultants work at least part of their time in NHS hospitals as well, so NHS is not equal to rubbish.

Having been through Private, which was lovely (really), and having heard horror stories from friends on NHS, I'll still go the NHS route if my next pregnancy is normal / low risk. For £10K, you can pay a doula to be with you throughout the whole process, you can employ an army to help with the stuff afterwards (for example Post birth doula ), and still have loads left for when they actually grow up.

Thinking back, I'm actually a bit embarrassed about the things I wasted spent money on. The world's most expensive photo shoot <<dying of embarrassment here>>, proper clothes for a newborn, the list goes on.

Honestly, unless you're a millionaire and you won't notice the £10K, I'd at least seriously consider NHS and just pay privately for extra help. I worked until 3 days before my CS, and didn't have time to go to anti-natal check-ups at my local hospital. I paid for a anti-natal package at a private surgery near work, so was able to go during lunch. Worth considering.

MisSalLaneous Fri 01-Jul-11 11:06:15

Uhm, just realised I referred to "the actual operation" above. That is referring to CS, of course. For a "normal" pregnancy, I'd love to try for a water birth at home, but dh was freaked out at the thought - in the end it was irrelevant as I had to have CS anyway. Not sure how you feel about it, but again, another thing to consider imo.

PhyllisDiller Fri 01-Jul-11 11:12:23

What about the middle option of an independent midwife? It won’t cost 10k, but you will see the same midwife throughout and she will come to your home. I have friends that have taken that option and have loved it.

If I was very very rich and 10k would go unnoticed then I might go private, but it would be more for the ‘nice’ surroundings in which to give birth and the speed of ‘service’ so to speak, i.e not having to wait hours for a blood test result or to have to queue to be seen (non of which I mind at all).

As it happens having a homebirth in my area means that from 30 weeks or so I will be seen at home by the same midwife. Quite nice, I find the less fussing the better though. TBH, it depends on your view, but with a normal pregnancy a good midwife is all you need.

My fear of going private would be that you are seen as a bit of a commodity, any little worry that you have and ‘of course madam, you may see your consultant’ and your bill will go up accordingly…whereas on the NHS your midwife would have put you ate ease in moment.

If you have money to spend, definitely definitely use/save it for afterwards….a night nanny, cleaner, meals sent in from wherever Gwyneth buys them from and a trainer to help you get back into shape….the list is endless.

dreamingbohemian Fri 01-Jul-11 11:13:50

I think it depends where you live and what your local NHS facilities are like. If they're a nightmare and you can afford private, why not? But if they're rated well, why waste the money?

warthog Fri 01-Jul-11 11:16:08

i had a private obstetrician for all three. normal births. expensive but could afford comfortably. happy with the level of care and would do again.

however if it will be a strain financially, go the doula route without a doubt.

valbona Fri 01-Jul-11 11:24:22

If you have an uncomplicated pregnancy then I think it is an awful lot of money, a real waste to be honest - unless you have stacks to spare in which case of course go for it if that's what you really want.

All you need during pregnancy is the scans and to pop along to a midwife to have your BP etc checked. If I'd seen a consultant, I don't know what we would have talked about. The weather, probably.

When it comes to the birth itself, I doubt all the private care in the world would have made a difference to the labour - it was something me and my body had to do on our own. All the trimmings in the world can't make the contractions go away - and the NHS kept me safe and delivered my baby no problems.

All the above might not apply if you specific health problems etc but if it's more a matter of being (understandably) nervous, wanting to control the situation, I'd look into thorough birth classes / a good yoga course / reading some positive books etc and treating yourself to a lot of pregnancy massages ...

As people have said, save the money for help afterwards - we hired a cleaner for starters ...

Secondtimelucky Fri 01-Jul-11 11:24:29

I'm another one who would think consultant led care a positive disincentive in a low risk, straightforward pregnancy. Doctors are not generally used to seeing as many 'normal' births as midwives, and statistically I believe they are more likely to see problems and encourage intervention. It depends what style of care you want.

If money was no object, I'd personally hire an independent midwife. As it was, for a fraction of that cost (about a tenth for everything) we had a wonderful doula and two private scans (instead of the admittedly horrid queuing in the NHS scanning), in London.

Also, if you go the private route, do check very very carefully what it covers. Private care can increase massively if, for example, you need to be kept in longer than expected because of complications. Some policies wouldn't necessarily cover this.

warthog Fri 01-Jul-11 11:33:22

i think this idea that obstetricians only deal with abnormal births and are therefore more likely to intervene is an absolute load of tosh.

any good obstetrician isn't going to do anything unnecessary. if a mw can recognise a normal birth why can't an ob who has 15 years worth of training?

illogical.

coffeeaddict Fri 01-Jul-11 11:42:35

I agree. Don't assume consultants will force you down the medicalised route, mine certainly never did. I went private twice after a pretty horrible 2nd birth on NHS. For me the advantages are - getting to know and trust the person who will deliver your baby - knowing you can have an epidural straightaway if you need it - one-to-one care throughout labour, I had a midwife to myself throughout and the consultant in and out - own clean bathroom etc. I was in the private wing of a big hospital so had neonatal unit etc right there. I never felt like a commodity!

I think the consultants love doing nice normal births as on the NHS they are only pulled in for dire emergencies. As mine said - 'if you're on the NHS you don't want to see me appear in the room'.

It is not that you can't have a great birth on the NHS - I have (in the good old days when there was more funding and my midwife stayed with me.) For me it was the fact that I could afford it and I didn't want to feel my experience would be a lottery of who was on shift, how many beds full etc.

NB My Dsis hired an independent midwife for her first birth and ended up hating her! There was tension between the independent midwife and hospital staff, which she hadn't anticipated. She went private second time round. So there are no guarantees. I think it is all about the person. If you DO decide to go private, see lots of consultants/midwife teams as you need to feel comfortable with their ethos.

Also - yes. Be careful of the bills. The scans in particular mount up.

Secondtimelucky Fri 01-Jul-11 11:44:22

I don't have time to dig out stats, and I'm obviously not saying all OB's have the same view, but the figures on the percentage of female OBs who would choose an elective section in an uncomplicated first pregnancy (or would recommend one to their partners in the case of male OBs) suggests a certain view of childbirth. By contrast, I saw statistics that midwives are more likely than the average to choose homebirth. I do think that, overall, there is a difference in how they perceive the process.

tiggersreturn Fri 01-Jul-11 14:17:41

Personally I'm a big fan of the nhs because I'm high risk and therefore get very good treatment.

If I thought it was worth spending the money on it I would look at the private practices attached to the major NHS teaching hospitals. As people have said above more consistent AN treatment and far superior Post Natal care. All my nightmares from ds' birth by EMCS are centred on the PN ward.

I would never consider a hospital without special care facilities for me and babies. Even the Portland which now claims to have a SCBU won't take babies under 30 weeks. So you'd still run the risk of being separated (as in potentially miles away) from your baby if things went wrong. Also the NHS facilities at the sharp end are far superior to private ones.

For the same reasons I wouldn't consider NHS birth centres (not that they'd take me).

cardamomginger Fri 01-Jul-11 16:22:55

Wish to God I had gone privately. I would have used a private wing within and NHS hospital. When I got pregnant my first thought was to go for a consultant led private birth, but I let myself get talked out of it by my GP and my doula, and to a certain extent by DH. The birth was a horrendous experience and I have been left with birth injuries that require extensive surgical repair. Part of the repairs needed are because a tear was misdiagnosed and was stitched incorrectly. And part of the reason why the birth was so horrendous was that it would have been better for me to have had an ELCS. I'm not saying that the reasons why I should have been ELCS would definitely have been picked up if I had gone privately, nor that it is guaranteed that I would have been stitched correctly. But I suspect that a consultant would have been more likely to have got it right than the registrars I saw on the NHS. But I suppose if I had forked out all that dosh and then it had still gone wrong there would be another level to my already quite large sense of being angry and pissed off grin! The comments other people have made about whether your local NHS facility looks nice or not are spot on. I had one night on the antenatal ward and another on the postnatal ward and the conditions were vile. No peace and quiet, lights on all night. The worst part was the broken and disgusting bathrooms - it is inevitable that women who have just given birth may have continence issues and will be bleeding heavily and I'd prefer any blood and urine that I encounter to be my own. If there is another DC, we will be going privately. I think you should do what makes you feel most comfortable and what you will find most reassuring during the pregnancy.

nannyl Fri 01-Jul-11 17:35:42

It depends where you live....

up here in yorkshire we have no private options even if i wanted them! I have looked into it.

On the plus side i see my wonderful midwife every 3rd week, always the same lady unless she's on holiday in which case its always one other.

There are 5 on their team so 2 / 5 will attend my planned homebirth.

My care has been great with the NHS and id be positively reluctant to see a consultant and have a hospital birth (unless there were real complications that made it necessary of course)

IMO a midwife led birth, in a normal scenario NOT in a hospital is the place where your birth is most likely to be intervention free, which, if thats what you want, is better, healthier and safer for you and baby.
Of course if you need a consultant then thats another matter, but at least perhaps look into YOUR NHS care where YOU live and judge it based on that!

BagofHolly Fri 01-Jul-11 23:59:28

I think this is one of those "if you can, you should" situations. The Portland does a midwifery-led service and you can labour in your own room/bath if you want to. If you have a cs, the aftercare is tremendous. But having delivered all mine privately via cs, if I'd had the option (and confidence) and had had totally uncomplicated pregnancies, delivering at home would have been lovely.
(I decided that my absolute favourite option was ELCS at home, but I found that rather difficult to arrange! wink

DancingWind Sun 03-Jul-11 20:09:20

Hi,
I would personally love to go private if I could afford it. My boyfriend will probably say the same thing as your husband, but you know something? He's not pushing it out of his vagina! Childbirth is something people just assume women can do because they've been doing it for years. While that is true to some extent, I think the whole experience would be a lot better if it was treated with a little more sympathy and compassion by everyone. Men, those lucky bastards, will never know what it is like to have a period or give birth, so at the risk of sounding very rude, they need to get over themselves and be more supportive. As my american niece says "Suck it up, and fork over the cash". Pearls of wisdom straight from an obnoxious 14 year old;) Once I was having menstrual cramps and moaning in pain and my boyfriend told me to stop being a wimp.angry Lets just say he didn't get any for a looooooooong time.
Anyway, I got a little off track. My colleague had her baby at the private wing in the Kensington(or was it Chelsea? I will confirm) hospital and she loved it. Her consultant was Dr.Nick something(again, will confirm) and he was really good, I believe. A friend had hers at Portland and loved it. I have never been pregnant, but have been told by the people I know who have children that consultant led care is better if you can afford it. Although, if you go private you can choose your midwife, so you will naturally pick someone who is good at her job and is nice and attentive. Private care will definitely give you more control over the whole experience. You will have more choice and your preferences will always be taken into account(within reason of course). That is not always possible on the NHS. Besides you get plenty of side benefits. You can choose your consultant or midwife-male/female, young/old, all your choice. You will get a private room after the birth. Your partner can stay with you overnight. New mums always seem to say how overwhelmed they felt when they had to be all alone at night with a screaming baby so soon after the birth. To me the biggest advantage of private care is that the consultant/midwife you are familiar and comfortable with is the one who is there during the birth. That security would mean a lot to me. I somehow associate private care with peace of mind! It sounds horrible, because the NHS has been so great on several occasions but if I have a baby, I'm going private.
Let me know what you decidesmile Best of luck.

QTPie Mon 04-Jul-11 02:10:33

I have to agree with DancingWind: if you can comfortably afford it (or with small sacrifices.... it isn't like many new patents have hectic social lives or blow-out holidays for a few months afterwards...), then do it. We did and the best £15k ever spent: breech diagnosed early, planned ELCS, excellent surgeon, no pain, great recovery, fab scar, husband stayed with me for entire 5 day stay, treated as a human being, well fed, all of us got "off on the right foot". If we have another DC, will go private again...

hats716 Mon 04-Jul-11 02:39:58

Hi, im new in uk and I too want private health care for my family. We are moving to cheshire, and so wd really appreciate of someone can tell me about good private hospital in manchester or cheshire ( alderley edge, wilmslow, etc) and also names of some good private medical insurers. Thanks !

Boobz Mon 04-Jul-11 08:42:03

PhyllisDiller said:

"What about the middle option of an independent midwife? It won’t cost 10k, but you will see the same midwife throughout and she will come to your home. I have friends that have taken that option and have loved it.

If I was very very rich and 10k would go unnoticed then I might go private, but it would be more for the ‘nice’ surroundings in which to give birth and the speed of ‘service’ so to speak, i.e not having to wait hours for a blood test result or to have to queue to be seen (non of which I mind at all).

As it happens having a homebirth in my area means that from 30 weeks or so I will be seen at home by the same midwife. Quite nice, I find the less fussing the better though. TBH, it depends on your view, but with a normal pregnancy a good midwife is all you need.

My fear of going private would be that you are seen as a bit of a commodity, any little worry that you have and ‘of course madam, you may see your consultant’ and your bill will go up accordingly…whereas on the NHS your midwife would have put you ate ease in moment.

If you have money to spend, definitely definitely use/save it for afterwards….a night nanny, cleaner, meals sent in from wherever Gwyneth buys them from and a trainer to help you get back into shape….the list is endless."

and I agree. I've had 2 homebirths on the NHS, and they were amazing. If you want a natural, normal birth, plan a homebirth on the NHS. Best thing I ever did (twice, and in about 8 months time, thrice!)

Good luck, whatever you choose to do.

nunnie Mon 04-Jul-11 10:54:17

I looked into private for this one (3rd) just because I was orginally going for the ELCS option due to a previous EMCS with my 2nd. There was nothing local to me, most if not all were in the South of England so driving that far if I went into labour beforehand was not an option as I do progress from stage 1 to 2 very quickly well have done with my previous two anyway.
The lack of local facilities decided for me really.

I have now opted for a VBAC and while I am still apprehensive I do trust my local hospital as they haven't failed me yet.

If you have the money and local facilities then continue discussing it with your DH if it is really what you want.

citymonkey Tue 05-Jul-11 12:03:30

I think it depends on what sort of person you are tbh. Assuming no complications (if you have any, you would likely see a consultant on the NHS anyway and have more checks etc), I think it just depends on what you need to make you comfortable. We are going private at the C&W (this is my first pregnancy). It wasn't an immediate / obvious decision - the total bill is likely to be around £13k and although we can afford that, there are plenty of other things I could think to spend it on especially when I think that the NHS can provide outstanding care (a friend of mine had the 'dream birth' at C&W on the NHS) - but I am quite an anxious person and knowing that I could pay to have a consultant there at the birth has taken away a lot of the anxiety I am sure I would otherwise be having. I am a bit of a freak though...

I don't really care at all about the private room and it sort of bemuses me when the first thing people ask is "what is the room like??" - my ideal situation would have been to be able to pay for the consultant and then use NHS wards for everything else, though of course they won't let you do that. And people keep telling me I will really value having my own room after the birth. We'll see I suppose.

The other thing that is good going privately (though I can't compare this to the NHS equivalent because I have no experience of it) is that you get a lot of checks in the later stages of pregnancy, so allegedly they will be able to pick up on potential issues sooner and plan in advance.

Having said all that, I am not sure that I will go private next time necessarily - ie if the birth goes well I can imagine being more relaxed about not having a consultant there (which for a normal pregnancy and birth must be massive overkill in reality - but of course you don't know what complications might arise. That's the worrier in me). Although maybe if it goes well I will assume it is because of the consultant led care I have had and be too scared NOT to have it next time!

Wow that was a long post, apologies for banging on.

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