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Stick with UCLH or transfer to Queen Charlotte's/C&W at 36 weeks?

(10 Posts)
TarteTatin27 Mon 29-Oct-12 00:55:18

I am 36 weeks, first pregnancy and so far everything normal and low risk (touch wood). I've had my antenatal care at UCLH (mainly with the community midwife team) and am due to give birth there. I chose it mainly because it was closest to where I lived (<10 mins' drive). I have been happy with my antenatal care (all scans on time, never had to wait more than 30 mins to see a midwife, good continuity of community midwife care).

However, I moved a couple of weeks ago to Fulham and I'm now about 5-7 mins' drive from C&W, 10 mins from Queen Charlotte's and 20-30 mins (in OK traffic) from UCLH. I also have the impression that UCLH is very heavily booked and there is a real risk of getting told to go home, and/or waiting a long time for a bed, if you're not well into established labour.

I'm worried about making a long trip in and either being sent home or having a painful wait. I am also slightly apprehensive about the standard of care (and likelihood of getting an epidural if needed!) at somewhere that seems so busy.

Does anyone have recent experience of UCLH, C&W or Queen Charlotte's, or views on how much of a difference journey time makes in central London? Is it worth trying to transfer at this late a stage or better just to stick with where I am if I've been happy with the antenatal care?

Sorry for length of post and thank you in advance for your help!

TarteTatin27 Mon 29-Oct-12 19:02:26


ScottishDiblet Mon 29-Oct-12 20:17:36

Hello, and many congrats to you on your pregnancy. i am afraid i can't help much as i don't have direct experience of either QC or C&W (well i was born at QC but that was a long time ago!), but i am in a similar position. My local hospital (St Thomas) is FAB and i've been so happy with all my appointments there, but we are due to move when i'll be 34 weeks pregnant to South London so St Georges will be my local hospital. I know i can stay at St Thomas if i want to but, like you, i'm nervous about the journey and being turned back if i'm too early.

By the way - i've had several friends who've given birth at each of the hospitals that you mentioned. Some have had great lovely labours, and others haven't been so easy. but i'm pretty sure that doesn't reflect on the hospital (in my opinion) and you could have a great birth at a 'not so good' hospital - and in fact all three that you mention have a good reputation. It comes down to whether you think you can face the car journey (possibly more than once) to UCLH. I don't know the answer and i'd be interested in other peoples' views too - should i head to the (slightly less nice) St Georges or stick with St Thomas and hope the car journey is fine? I suppose the other thing to remember is that even if you're booked into UCLH and then can't face the journey, the local hospital isn't going to turn you down if you arrive on their doorstep in labour. I assume you have your own maternity notes that you'll bring to the hospital so they'd only be reading those for any background, not looking at the hospital computer.
Best of luck Tarte - do let me know what you decide. x

squifflybobs Tue 30-Oct-12 08:29:00

congrats on your pregnancy! I gave birth to DS1 at UCLH 4 years ago, on a saturday night when they were very busy. They sent me home and then told me (we phoned in twice overnight to report progress and ask if I could come in) to stay at home. I eventually started pushing.... And had a mad taxi dash back to the hospital. When we got there, they couldn't find a heartbeat so there was a rush to get him out. It was not fun < massive understatement>.

If I were you, I would either move to a closer hospital or, when you go into UCLH, use distance as a reason not to be sent home. At the very least, I would insist that you stay ( in the waiting room if necessary) for a couple of hours if they won't admit you. I think they assume that all first time labours will take a long time- mine was about 9 hours.

I have also transferred maternity care late in pregnancy. We emigrated when I was 33 weeks with DS2. UCLH made sure my notes were up to date and put in a "transfer note". It was fine- my new birth centre redid all my blood tests and gave me another scan, but assume that wouldn't be necessary if you are only going up the road. I had an excellent water birth and got a cast iron guarantee that they wouldn't send me home- this was in New Zealand, definitely recommend their maternity care if you get the chance grin

bunnymother Tue 30-Oct-12 09:09:25

I had DD1 at UCLH on a Saturday night when they were busy. The staff were wonderful - DD1 was in distress so she was a forceps delivery. I couldn't have been happier w the hospital. This was 3.5 years ago. I then had twins at QC and they were fab, but this was a planned C section so quite different. So, I found both hospitals to be great. I, personally, would be cautious about switching this late, though, but that's me and my concerns about paperwork transferring, being comfortable in a new hospital w little time to go. If it helps it's easy to get cabs to and from UCLH. Not so easy w QC, especially going home (I have waited an hour before, but this was pre Hailo). Good luck!

TarteTatin27 Tue 30-Oct-12 16:31:17

Many thanks for your help! Congratulations on your pregnancy ScottishDiblet and sorry about the stressful deliveries squifflybobs and bunnymother.

I'm leaning towards sticking with UCLH. The midwives I have seen so far have been lovely and although they don't do tours, at least I've been inside the hospital a few times for my scans. I called C&W yesterday and, while they were courteous, they weren't all that helpful. I can't come in to look around till the next free maternity unit tour (4 days after my due date). Can't add an extra person to an earlier tour or put my name down in case there's a cancellation. So if I want to transfer, I need to self-refer ASAP without having ever seen the place. I might try Queen Charlotte's but no doubt that will be at least as busy as UCLH.

I guess it will be a case of holding out at home as long as possible and then insisting on sticking around for a while once I come in. What fun!

Good luck with yours ScottishDiblet! Let me know what you decide.

straighttohellymelly Tue 30-Oct-12 16:37:43

I would think about shifting your care closer to you. Unless you were booked into the midwife-led birthing centre and your new hospital doesn't have one. I had both my dds at UCH (old building, just before they moved) and was happy with the midwives and my lovely consultant. However I think it is far easier to have a short dash to the hospital if needed than to shlep across town to get there. I spent a lot of time in the DAU at the end of one pregnancy and as I was five minutes drive in a taxi away it was bearable, but 13-45 minutes would have been really stressful.

Clumsasaurus Fri 02-Nov-12 09:39:11

I had my DS at UCH 12 weeks ago and have nothing but good things to say about them. We called in when labour was looking like it was serious and stayed in touch by phone for a couple of hours. Went into the birthing cente by cab, was seen straight away and given a fab room with a pool, en suite, beanbags etc and there we stayed until he came 12 hrs later.

Midwives were fab, peads team supportive and helpful and generally a good experience :-)

TarteTatin27 Sun 04-Nov-12 13:03:37

Congratulations Clumsasaurus and thank you for sharing your recent experience! I'm also hoping to use the Birthing Centre so that is all very positive.

Thank you also straighttohellymelly for the advice - I agree that having to make frequent half-hour journeys to hospital in the weeks leading up to the birth would be difficult. So far I've been able to avoid that but if things change then I will definitely consider a last-minute transfer to C&W.

schroedingersdodo Sun 04-Nov-12 18:47:03

I've had DC1 at the Royal Free - had rubbish antenatal care all along and then a rubbish birth experience (staff disrespectful, etc). I'm at UCH now and the prenatal so far has been great. I now think that I was a bit stupid of me not to take the bad antenatal care at the Royal Free as a sign of a bad attitude in the birth centre/labour ward in general. (I'm hoping UCH staff will be as good during the birth as they have been so far).

What I'm trying to say (and I'm not making myself clear) is that if you are happy with the antenatal care, maybe the wiser option would be to stick with UCH. The recommendation at UCH for first mums (in my antenatal class) was to, once you got 3 contractions every ten minutes, lasting about 45 seconds each, then you wait 2 hours and go to hospital (in your case, you can leave earlier so you get there within the 2 hours). It won't be a fun ride, but it will prevent you from getting there too early.

And once you are there, you just don't go home. Go to the chapel, walk up and down the street, but tell them you're not going all the way back home and back to hospital again. That's what I'm planning to do once I get there (no way I'll get into a taxi three times in labour. Once I'm in the hospital, that's it.)

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