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Where to have my baby? (esp. near Oxford) Worried about pain-relief.

(14 Posts)
whizzyrocket Sat 06-Aug-11 15:36:10

Hi there,

I'm due my baby boy on bonfire night, which is scary and exciting in equal measure as it's quite close now really. Time is definitely creeping up on me!

Anyway, my husband is in the RAF and we've been posted to Benson, south of Oxford, so I won't be having my boy in Aylesbury, where the mid-wife run unit is alongside the hospital so you get the best of both worlds, as we'll be moving at the end of September. So I need to now consider where to have him.

There's a birthing centre at Wallingford which is only five minutes away from where we'll be living at Benson, or we'll be going to the hospital at Oxford. Has anyone been to either? What experiences have you had?

If not, what are your experiences in general regarding hospitals or birthing centres?

I'd definitely prefer the Wallingford birthing centre if I could be sure I could take the pain. This is my first baby, I'm not good with pain ordinarily, and my mum advises an epidural (I tend to respect her advice) so that that option is not available at a birthing centre is distinctly off-putting. That those who have babies in hospital are far more likely to find themselves having an assisted delivery however also does not endear hospital births to me, and having spoken to various people I know, the quality of care and support seems to be better at the birthing centres.

So what do you think? Epidural and hospital birth or no epidural and a birth-centre?

squiggleywiggler Sat 06-Aug-11 16:03:04

Hi whizzyrocket

FWIW my mum has always advised me to 'have an epidural as soon as you get pregnant' as she loved hers and I renowned for being a total wimp.
DD was born at home without any pain relief at all and we didn't actually even use the pool. The culture around birth was different when our mums had us and there's more understanding now that the right environment and support can improve women's experiences and decrease interventions as you mention.

Birth centres are generally more woman-focused and more 1-1 care. MWs are the experts in normal birth.

is it a very long transfer from the birth centre to hospital if you need pain relief?

Even in hospital it can be an hour or two from requesting an epidural to the anaesthetist being available, so as long as the MWs have rung ahead and let them know that you're on your way, I wouldn't have thought there would be a huge timing difference in you getting an epidural if you need one.

Obviously an ambulance ride in labour isn't ideal, but they carry gas and air and are usually pretty flexible about you getting in to a comfy position.

This is a decision you need to be comfortable with so worth visiting both units if you can and seeing how you feel.

whizzyrocket Sat 06-Aug-11 16:20:36

Thanks. That is my instinct, but the idea of not having an epidural option is scary. My sister had a rough time in hospital when she had her first baby- they just left her as soon as she had had him, so she hadn't even had a shower by morning.

I'll be 12 miles south of Oxford- I don't know where the hospital is in Oxford or how easy the roads are to get there. I will only be in the next village from the birthing centre though.

Speckledy Sat 06-Aug-11 16:40:43

Whizzy, there is also a midwife led unit at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford upstairs from the normal delivery suite so that is another option. It's called The Spires. I was planning a delivery in Wallingford but high blood pressure at the end of pregnancy meant I had to go to the normal delivery suite in the JR and still had a great midwife-only birth with no intervention and only gas and air.

Speckledy Sat 06-Aug-11 16:44:12

As far as I know there is also an option to transfer to Wallingford for post-natal care but I didn't look into that.

It's probably a good 30 mins from Benson to the John Radcliffe depending on traffic.

whizzyrocket Sat 06-Aug-11 16:51:39

Useful, thanks.

Was it your first child? I go from being in complete denial to being sure I won't be able to cope with the pain- the worst pain I've ever had have been tension headaches so far! I'm glad you say they're pretty good. I shall have to see how they transfer me to a new midwife and ask what my options are.

Were they a supportive service before-hand as well?

Speckledy Sat 06-Aug-11 17:19:22

Yes, first child. He's now 4 months. I have to say the ante- natal care was ok but not great. The midwife team seems very stretched so I saw my gp more often than the midwife. I did have a very easy pregnancy though so it wasn't too much of a problem. Other friends around oxford have had problems not being booked in for scans at the right time etc as the service is so stretched. Do Chase up everything- blood test results, appointments whatever is important to you.

SleepyFergus Sat 06-Aug-11 17:19:42

Well everyone's pain threshold is different and no-ones know how your birth will go - it's a hard one! I have a DD and whilst I wasn't overly nervous about giving birth, I knew that I wanted to be in hospital with access to everything should anything un-toward happen

I ended up having G&A, diamorphine and an epidural and it was bliss. Once I'd had the epidural and waiting to fully dilate I was able to sit in the bed and chat away for ages with the midwives and DH (it was a v quiet night for births that night!) When I was fully dilated, the MW had her hand on my belly and could feel the contraction coming on so I knew when to push as I couldn't feel a thing. Some folks say that I will have missed out by not being able to feel this but not at all in my opinion (although, granted, I have nothing to compare that to as I only have DD) and I still pushed like hell! I ended up needing forceps and an episiotomy so glad I was in Hosp for that.

Just a bit of a straw poll to further elaborate There were 8 of us in my NCT group - 5 needed c sections (3 emergency), 2 of us had forceps and only 1 had an unassisted labour. We all opted for hospital births.

If you are in anyway unsure/ anxious ten I would certainly opt for hospital where you can have any pain relief available (not saying you have to have it, but at least you have the option) and not worry about the what ifs.

Good luck with whatever you choose!

redundant Sat 06-Aug-11 21:35:12

typing in haste but just to say the Spires is MLU actually on the site of the JR - would be best of both worlds. You could then transfer to W/ford the next day if you wanted (post natal care nicer/better than that available at the sometimes short staffed JR) - that's what I did. good luck.

mimmymouse Tue 09-Aug-11 19:13:03

I had my baby, my first, at Wallingford. I cannot recommend those amazing midwives highly enough. It was a terrific place to give birth. We were able to stay for 2 days and really get the hang of breastfeeding. The food was really good, the support genuine and my DH always welcome.

As for pain relief, I found the guidance I was given was extremely helpful - they don't leave you, they stay with you and keep you informed and positive. I only used gas and air. Didn't even use the pool!

I would recommend you telephone them and ask for a tour. This really helped me decide that Wallingford was the place for me. Regarding pain relief, I did lots of yoga and breathing. This helped me stay mobile, calm and focussed. Our community midwife was from Wallingford and she'd recommended a yoga teacher who does an excellent class (DH goes too) for labour. You'll be surprised how well you can cope.

Overall, Wallingford was faultless. Call them and ask to come in.

Good luck with whatever you decide!

Almacks Mon 15-Aug-11 00:33:40

Wallingford was really good in my experience. I had dc1 in a large hospital(not JR). Birth was fine (well, you know, painful but nothing really went wrong), but despite my best intentions and expressed wishes they had me on my back within minutes of arrival. Post natal was AWFUL. Wallingford has mega supportive MWs for birth and post natal. Plus, driving to hospital in labour is really horrible, the shorter the better and Benson is next door to Wallingford!

LiegeAndLief Mon 15-Aug-11 22:59:51

I had both my babies at the JR in Oxford but live in Wallingford (sadly was too high risk for Wallingford midwives). The JR is about 30min drive from Benson if the traffic is ok but it can be awful if you are unlucky enough to want to go in at rush hour!

Given the choice I would definitely have gone for Wallingford, if only for the post natal care which sounds a million miles better than at the JR. I have a few friends who have given birth there and they all said it was wonderful. One had to be asked to leave several days after the birth of her second child as she didn't want to go home! If you have your antenatal care there you should get to see the same mw through your pg and spend much less time hanging around waiting for your appt.

Remember you can always transfer in labour if you need to.

LiegeAndLief Mon 15-Aug-11 23:01:02

Didn't mean to make that sound like the JR was awful, as I thought my care was excellent, but would have preferred Wallingford.

PipCarrier Thu 18-Aug-11 13:30:49

The Spires MLU at the JR is amazing. I had my first baby there and it was a great experience, I really couldn't fault it. Like others have said, you'll have the best of both worlds as they can transfer you downstairs to delivery instantly if you want an epidural or there are any problems.

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