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Lewisham Hospital & Queen Elizabeth's, Woolwich reviews please?

(13 Posts)
Bayldon Mon 15-Aug-11 15:27:12

I am a first-time Mum to be and haven't lived in this area for long. I live pretty much between Lewisham hospital and Woolwich (Queens Elizabeth's).

Does anyone have recent experience of these hospitals? I have to make my mind up next week at my booking appintment, so I am told!

All help gratefully received.

Thank you!

Secondtimelucky Mon 15-Aug-11 15:40:00

Are you planning a hospital birth? If you wanted a homebirth, I'd go for whichever is easier to get to in traffic.

Assuming you want to be in hospital, are you a candidate for the Lewisham MLU? TBH, I have heard dire stories and great experiences from both hospitals. And short staffed post natal is a fixture of both - indeed seemingly nearly all London hospitals have this problem. I had a horrid time with DD1 at QE a couple of years ago, which was a big thing for me in choosing a home birth second time. I've heard better things more recently. However, if I'd wanted to/needed to be in hospital, I'd have gone for Lewisham so that I could try for the MLU. It looks lovely and I've heard great things about the midwives there.

If you think homebirth might be something you would consider, do post again. I would be happy to message you direct and discuss. It was great, and I wish I'd done it for DD1.

Also, have you considered a doula? One of the issues with the NHS is that staffing issues mean that staff have to focus on your medical needs and getting those right, but don't have the time to give more of the emotional/encouragement type advice. I thought that the midwives would do all of that, but they don't always and my wonderful, wonderful doula was a major factor in DD2's birth being one of the best experiences of my life.

curlyredhair Mon 15-Aug-11 15:50:29

Have you been to visit? I work here at SLHT (we cover QE) and would be happy to organise a visit for you.
I gave birth at Lewisham 7 years ago, delivery was fine, but after care was terrible.
Alternatively I gave birth at PRU in Bromley three years ago and it was fine.
Let me know if you'd like to come into QE and have a look round.

splodge77 Mon 15-Aug-11 21:38:15

Hi, I gave birth at Lewisham's birthing centre in January. It was a really positive experience which i have described more fully here:

i would definitely recommend the birthing centre if you want a drug-free birth (they only have gas and air and pethadine available). My experience of the post-natal ward was good too. Good luck!

Bayldon Tue 16-Aug-11 10:54:30

Thanks for all of your messages. If I am honest, I am a little bit shocked by the whole thing and am just trying to get my head round where to start and what decisions I need to make.

I haven't considered a doula - will look in to that! I wanted to be in hospital for the birth, for various reasons really.

I didn't know I could arrange visits at this stage - thanks curlyredhair - I would like a visit. I'd message you if I could work out how to do that (only joined Mumsnet a few days ago!!)

Crikey - it is a little overwhelming, isn't it?!

Secondtimelucky Tue 16-Aug-11 11:38:57

It can be to start with, but you'll be fine. Actually, the overwhelming feeling is one of the reasons I bang on about doulas so much. Once you've booked one, most of them are happy to help you with those niggling little questions you don't feel you can ask the midwives!

As far as I know, QE still does general open visits every Sunday afternoon. You'd have to check the times. Just don't get too carried away with the facilities they show you. When we went, they made a big deal of showing off the birthing pool, but sadly I know a few people recently who were fobbed off from using it (too early, too late, etc) or were told they couldn't have a waterbirth because the pool was in use (what about the inflatable ones?). It's really about the staffing and quality of care, not the shiny equipment.

If you'd consider a doula, you might want to have a look for SquiggleyWiggler on these boards. She was mine, she is totally fab and she covers your area. Since you've not even had your booking appointment, she might even be free (she seems to book up further in advance than seems biologically possible!). The general etiquette is that you meet a couple of doulas before making a decision, although I was naughty and booked her straight off.

squiggleywiggler Tue 16-Aug-11 12:32:20

Did someone call?! wink

Bayldon - congratulations. Like the others I've heard good and bad things about both - like most London hospitals! Lewisham MLU is new and shiny and definitely worth a look around.

It's good to know that if you book with one hospital you can swap to another at any point or indeed book a homebirth at any point. You aren't committing to anything at this stage which might make it feel a little less overwhelming!

MN will give you some good ideas about things to research and support you can get during your pregnancy and birth.

If secondtimelucky's ideas of homebirth and doulas are at all of interest it's worth having a look at and to find out a bit more. Again you've got lots of time to think about these options - no pressure.

I've got some birth centre and homebirth stories up on my website and some other bits and bobs about pregnancy and birth stuff you might find useful.

And yes, if you haven't had your booking appointment I am indeed available so would be very happy to email/phone/meet to talk informally about doula stuff!

secondtimelucky someone's bound to cotton on to the £20 notes I keep pushing under your door for all the Mumsnet appreciation you've been doling out grin !

Secondtimelucky Tue 16-Aug-11 13:10:19

Ha ha. What I'd really like is for Anita underwired nursing bras to notice how often I recommend them and send me some free stuff!

Wingdingdong Tue 16-Aug-11 13:15:49

I had DD at QE 2 years ago. I'd heard enough horror stories at the time to want to avoid hospital and had planned a home birth, but ended up with an emergency c/s at 17 days overdue, thanks to general incompetence. DD ended needing a year of physio and appts with specialists at Lewisham and Great Ormond St - still being seen by GOSH.

I've been told it's better now and that they're trying to improve further but I'm afraid there's no way I could go anywhere near that hospital now. It seemed that they had a real problem with lack of soap and cleaners - over the course of a year, I found no soap in the loos in A&E (three times), gynae (once, after a D&C) and postnatal ward (for three days, despite my reporting it twice a day - one loo for at least two wards, plus its visitors. In the end my husband brought in a bottle of antibacterial liquid soap from home and left it in the loo). The anti-bac sanitiser at the entrance to the ward was also empty, so I'm not quite sure how anyone was cleaning their hands. The loos in A&E were covered in blood and faeces every time I went there; that might just about be excusable if it was just before a cleaner was due, but unfortunately the gynae ward loo was the same (on the floor and walls...) and then the ensuite shower/loo for the delivery room I was in had also not been cleaned since the previous woman had given birth. My husband had to clean the blood off the loo with dettol wipes. At least I'd been warned this was likely, so had packed dettol wipes, anti-bac, disposable gloves, etc in my emergency hospital bag. Anyway, something to look out for!

I'm pg again now and supposed to be going to Lewisham. Apparently I have my booking-in appt on Friday and scan next week but I still haven't received the letter with the appt time and location. I'm now 12w, so it's cutting it a bit fine but they apparently lost half of the (one-page) referral letter faxed by my doctor hmm. As you can probably tell, I don't have much confidence left in any of the hospitals, and if I thought it would be safe to try for a home VBAC, I would. However, I don't think I get much choice in the matter, really.

If you're likely to have an uncomplicated pregnancy, as far as you can tell, then the Lewisham MLU does look good, if they can resolve their admin issues...

Purpleprickles Tue 16-Aug-11 13:45:17

Hi I had my ds at QEH nearly three years ago and it was fine. Great support and care whilst I was in labour, everywhere seemed very clean at that time too. I would have liked more after care support but to be honest that seems to be a comment made about every London hospital and also I think I just really would have like someone to hold my hand throughout the first 2 days of ds life grin. We've since had to take DS back to QEH children's A&E twice for minor things and the care has been very good again. I've also had a very minor procedure there which was fine too.

You'll find everyone has different experiences of hospitals, for example one friend had an negative experience of Lewisham and the other had a positive one. I'd second going to look round. For us it came down to what is closest to us. I also wanted a hospital birth as I wanted medical help and drugs on standby just in case. I also think, although some will disagree, that keeping an open mind about your birth plan and not being too rigid in what you want helps. Good luck smile

squiggleywiggler Tue 16-Aug-11 13:48:31

wingdingdong don't want to hijack the thread but I'm working with 2 people who have approval from their Supervisor of Midwives for an NHS home VBAC. Ok, not at Lewisham, but here in London.

It is entirely possible - though does take a bit of heel digging in.

PM me if you want any help.

Bayldon Tue 16-Aug-11 16:00:30

Thanks to everyone. Help much appreciated. I have called Lewisham and will try to go for a look round later this week, work permitting.

squiggleywiggler - thanks very much for the pointers. I have no real idea what a doula does or if I can afford one, so will look at the website you suggested - thank you!

I think I just need to get my head round what I need to research etc as you say. Also, good to know I am not tied to my decision next week.

Thanks all smile

louschmoo Thu 18-Aug-11 22:10:38

Hi there. I had my first baby at lewisham 2 weeks ago. I found the staff to be really helpful and my experience was very positive. The birth ended up being very medically managed which was not what I had planned (originally I was booked in for the birthing centre) but despite this I felt supported and listened to throughout. I cannot fault the staff there, particularly on the labour ward. I was induced, failed to progress beyond 2cm dilated after having the gel, artificial rupture of membranes and the syntocinon drip. The baby was then found to be in an awkward position (back to back and face presentation) so I ended up having a c-section. I was then on the post natal ward for 4 days as my baby had jaundice and needed phototherapy. On paper it sounds awful, but I have to say that looking back it was a really lovely experience! The midwives I had during my labour were fabulous - I had 1 lady during the day shift then another at night, so basically one to one care. Because I was being monitored they didn't leave me alone and they were so supportive. When it was decided. I needed a section the surgical team were fab - calm and friendly and very professional. And the post natal ward was also very good. Yes, they are rushed off their feet, and the ward itself is unbearably hot. But the midwives arevvery helpful and the breastfeeding counsellor is great.they don't treat you like a princess, but they are friendly, kind and practical which for me was just what ineeded. I came out confident that I was able to feed my baby and that I knew basically what to do with him, and that's because of the help I got at lewisham.
Sorry for the marathon post, and any spelling mistakes - am on my blackberry so can't preview easily. Overall I was very happy with lewisahm, ante natal, labour and post natal wards were all fine for me smile.

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