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Best Private Option For a Natural Birth?

(93 Posts)
DaisyBug Thu 04-Apr-13 19:23:45

Not pregnant yet but wondering....

Now that John and Lizzy's no longer do births, what's the best option for those who'd prefer a back-to-nature approach and aren't averse to a bit of whale music? The likes of The Portland/Lindo Wing/etc. don't seem to be very geared-up to this. Or am I out of touch?

I would have considered an independent midwife at home but, with this option likely to be disappear shortly too and availability of NHS midwives for homebirths being something a lottery, I'm wondering if there are any other avenues I should be exploring?

PeaceAndHope Tue 09-Apr-13 13:56:36

"However most of us pro breastfeeding would not deny women access to formula milk."

Oh how very generous of you. We were just waiting for your permission.

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 09-Apr-13 13:58:55

Oh my. I had to come back because I agree with Xenia and well, you have to come back if you agree with Xenia on something don't you?

PeaceAndHope Tue 09-Apr-13 14:05:24

Are you honestly arguing that it's easier to demand interventions than it is to refuse them? Are you quite mad?

And what do you agree with Xenia on? That she generously gave mums 'permission' to formula feed?

I repeat- This system keeps women as far away as they can from obstetricians, epidurals, cesareans and inductions and formula. How much more anti-intervention can they be??

I was forced to deal with midwives even though I wanted to see a consultant, refused an induction despite being in enormous pain and discomfort, forced into a natural birth, refused an epidural, forced to breastfeed, and denied my ELCS request the next time. Does this sound pro-intervention to you?

LaVolcan Tue 09-Apr-13 14:19:28

Same here Starlight - must be the first time for me too to agree with Xenia grin, but in this case I think she's spot on.

Poor OP - she asks for an opinion on the best option for a private birth. I can't offer any advice but wasn't there an obstetrician called Nick Wales whose wife had a homebirth? He would sound like a promising person to get in touch with.

Ah yes, just googled him, info here:

Hadassah Tue 09-Apr-13 14:23:54

I had a very good experience with Chelsea & Westminster, the Kensington Wing. I can really recommend it for natural delivery. I have never given birth at The Portland but I had an operation there and I think it is also very good.

Xenia Tue 09-Apr-13 14:26:24

I am almost certainly beyond my childbearing years so not sure why I ended up on the thread, but in general women have found it hard to resist interventions than to gain them in the UK, even going back tom the early 1960s when my mother was one of the UK's first NCT members it was quite a battle for her to get home from hospital when she wanted, to have later babies at home, to resist the compulsory shaving, enemas etc they did in those days.

With my own first NHS babies it was very hard to negotiate a six hour transfer. There was always resistance to NHS home births as they take up more money/resources. Formula is trust at people all over the place all over the planet although it is a little better in the UK than it used to be now. Even so we have the worst breastfeeding record of any EU state - in a sense we at the forefront of bottle feeding in the UK which is not best for babies.

If the NHS is refusing unnecessary epidurals and C sections for mothers who do not need them then that is all to the good. It is our money as full time working tax paying mothers what is being used to fund things.

No way is it easy to fight NHS intervention. It never has been. I do not remember its being very easy when I had my first children at all. it is not dead easy to say I will have this baby at home even if you tell me not to. Resisting monitoring and the like is not easy at all. I don't agree with the picture painted by some on the thread that it is harder to get intervention when it is not medically needed that it is to resist intervention you may not want although I was certainly comforted when i was pregnant with the twins with a recent court decision which said in labour you have the mental capacity to resist whatever you choose even if your child dies which is very good - woman's right before birth etc.

WouldBeHarrietVane Tue 09-Apr-13 14:32:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WouldBeHarrietVane Tue 09-Apr-13 14:32:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 09-Apr-13 14:34:05

'And what do you agree with Xenia on? That she generously gave mums 'permission' to formula feed?'

Yes. What a star eh?

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 09-Apr-13 14:38:53

Have a look at the Edgeware Birthing Unit.

It was posher than any hotel I've ever stayed in and after an intervention-free waterbith, DH and retired in the room next door which had a double-bed for DH and I, underfloor heating, patio doors to a private garden and of course en-suite, as well as a controllable thermostat and glider feeding chair.

They would have let us out earlier if we'd wanted but it was 11pm by the time dd was born and we fancied a night just the three of us before heading home to ds.

PeaceAndHope Tue 09-Apr-13 15:54:57


"If the NHS is refusing unnecessary epidurals and C sections for mothers who do not need them then that is all to the good. It is our money as full time working tax paying mothers what is being used to fund things. "

May I remind you that as the woman requesting epidurals, I have also paid taxes into the system for the past 25 years. That isn't just YOUR money. It's my contribution too. And the sum total of that will far exceed the £200 an epidural costs.

It is misogynistic to expect women to give birth in agony if they want pain relief. As a tax-payer, I'd rather my money be used by a labouring woman in pain than by lazy teens who live on welfare and refuse to work.
It is equally misogynistic to force a survivor of sexual abuse to give birth vaginally if it is going to traumatise her just to save £800.

Why do you place such a low value on a birthing woman's rights?

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 09-Apr-13 16:18:55

'It is misogynistic to expect women to give birth in agony if they want pain relief.'

I don't disagree. However the issue, and women's rights are far more complex than that.

But can I ask you a question?

Why can't you just discuss the issue in a calm and rational way? Why do you have to scan a posters sincere post, find what they state are their values then push your own agenda ending with a comment about how going against you is going against their own values?

It makes you sound unhinged and like a playground bully.

PeaceAndHope Tue 09-Apr-13 18:04:19


Please elaborate on how women's rights are so complex that we need to give a second thought to providing adequate pain relief to birthing women, most of whom are taxpayers themselves. And even if they're not, I'd rather fund the pain relief than the counselling they will need for PTSD afterwards.

There is pain relief and anaesthesia available for almost every other procedure- both minor and major. And it's paid for by the NHS. When people insist on making an exception for childbirth, it makes them sound like they acknowledge all pain except that felt by a pregnant woman. That attitude is despicable.

Xenia Tue 09-Apr-13 18:10:52

I have never been in an NHS hospital which did not offer women epidurals when they need them. I have very often seen women pressured into more, not less intervention. I just do not recognise the picture here. If you had an unusual situation where you needed an epidural and it was not available or had psychiatric problems which mean you cannot accept a vaginal birth despite presumably raising it in pregnancy and obtaining a psychiatrist report in relation to it then that is very unfortunate but it does not describe what most women find - that it can be harder to obtain a natural birth and it is to have intervention.

I am not misogynist at all. Many women do not want epidurals and manage without in their births. I had one once. The other births I did not feel I needed or wanted one but found gas and air pretty helpful. I always found epidurals were something the NHS was more than happy to dole out. I don't think I was lucky or unusual. Obviously sometimes by the time someone asks for one medically it is too late but that is a different issue.

C sections are pretty awful surgery and plenty of women hope not to have them and most manage without . It is major surgery and nothing ilke as easy as a vaginal birth for most people.

PeaceAndHope Tue 09-Apr-13 19:11:17


It is quite evident that you are erm, older. You sound a bit like my grandma to be honest.

Pain relief is not about need, it's based on want. If I ask for an epidural, it's because I am in pain. That's reason enough to give me one.

Just because some women do fine without epidurals doesn't mean the rest of us should be denied pain relief. This isn't the 50's. On paper, all NHS hospitals are supposed to offer epidurals, but many of them don't. It's either ideological (they want to promote "normal" birth) or a cost-cutting measure. I don't know where and when you gave birth, but your experience is an outlier, not mine.

And as someone who has had a vaginal birth with a third degree tear which took me 18 months to recover from I can tell you with confidence that vaginal births don't always have an easy recovery and there is no way of predicting in advance which side of the coin you'll get.

My planned cesarean on the other hand was the easiest experience of my life. I was jogging at 4 weeks and having sex within 2 weeks.There was no pain 1 week post birth. Cesareans are NOT an awful surgery and your sweeping generalisations aren't helping anyone. Have you even had a planned cesarean yourself to speak so confidently about how awful it is?

Tokophobia affects 1 in 6 British women and numerous reports have suggested that the NHS is not supporting them enough. Numerous women have come on mumsnet to speak about how they have been denied the right to choose cesareans even if they have medical or psychological reasons.
This is NOT an unusual situation, it's far more common than you think.

It is absolutely bizarre to suggest that it is harder to refuse intervention on the NHS than it is to demand it. That either means that your definition of "intervention" is completely warped (ie; glucose tests are an "intervention" hmm) or you gave birth long ago and have no idea what current maternity services on the NHS are like.

If you don't want an epidural, induction, sweep, cesarean- great! All you have to do is say "NO". They cannot force a thing on you. If you do want it however, be prepared to grovel and you probably still won't get it.

Xenia Tue 09-Apr-13 21:14:09

You had a bad time.
I'm not that old. My children just left prep school.

I think if there is no medical reason then the NHS should not be funding C sections and if people want them they should get off their bottoms and earn the money to pay for them.

Pain relief is different. Most women are not denied it.

If someone has a genuine psychiatric condition and fear of giving birth (not the usual worrying every woman on the planet has about giving birth) then they heed to obtain a psychological report and that can be submitted to make a case for a C section. I suspect if it is as high as 1 in 6 then we need a lot more education of teenage girls to realise how awful C sections are compared to vaginal births and it would be a shame if they have been conditioned into thinking using your body in the wonderful way for which it is made were something so many teenager girls think is yuck and wrong.

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 09-Apr-13 21:34:21

I have never heard ANYONE say that pain relief should be denied.

I'm angry with the stalling midwives who tried to keep me going despite my begging for an epidural, but know full well that it was because there just were not the resources. They should have listened more and transfered me but it might have been a hard call to make if they thought I was close to giving birth and they 'may' have judged it would be better for me to stay and be in pain jabbed with pethedine that makes me LOOK like I am more calm, than transfer me for an epidural.

Perhaps my begging appeared to me, more desperate than it appeared to them.

I don't know. I do know that I will never ever get over the experience and I blame my ds' neurological disability on the way I was dealt with on that day.

A c/section may well have prevented what happened to him. So too would have proper care and management I believe.

StarlightMcKenzie Tue 09-Apr-13 21:36:10

My ideal would be that less woman ASKED for epidurals due to not needing them through good education and support and being equiped to cope well with labour, and then everyone who did still ask, getting one immediately and without delay.

DaisyBug Wed 10-Apr-13 18:19:36

What a great twin birth story Xenia. That's so funny about them being born in different birth districts.

We live in Elstree, just on the Hertfordshire border, so could get to The Portland or any of the west London private wings fairly easily.

Watford General has a private wing but that basically just provides more comfortable accommodation from what I gather, rather than a difference in medical care.

Re: Edgware Birth Centre, yes, that would be a wonderful option and very local. The only thing that puts me off is that a friend was recently turned away during labour because they were full.

WouldBeHarrietVane Wed 10-Apr-13 18:29:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Xenia Wed 10-Apr-13 18:29:04

Yes, the twins like the story too. They were born 7 hours apart at exactly 40 weeks and were always happy, the happy babies, perhaps because I took the decision they would not be induced at 38 weeks and they had 2 more weeks of calm and putting on weight inside me. It illustrates how you cannot predict labour. I have never even heard of anyone having two separate 5 - 7 hour labours in one day for two twin births. I had only heard of you have one twin and the other comes out right after and I had read a load of books on twin births but I was very lucky. I had two private midwives at home. I could have got to any number of hospitals quickly when one was needed and although there was manageable pain I did not feel it got too much. I liked feeling in charge. I decided when I was fed up of trying at home for twin two. It was my decision and I wanted a drip by that point to speed up twin 2 in hospital and my decision to get back to our house the same night. I am sure 4th births will always be easier than most first births.

I am very sad that some women on this thread had a horrible time but I still do not believe most births on the NHS deny women epidurals except if they are asking for them at 9 cm dilated when it's too late. No system is perfect but we are terribly lucky to have the NHS. Most countries don't and even with its imperfections it tends to work fine for most parents.

I heard good things about Edgware birth centre too. I know Elstree - one of my daughters went to Habs and the other NLCS.

There were interviews on women's hour of grand mothers, their daughters and granddaughters all who had given birth and even 50 years one women still remember the births of children, defining moments for us all and it must be horrible to have a birth which traumatises you although I suppose even then given how many women die giving birth in many countries NHS care even at its worst is much much better than plenty of women endure.

HolidayArmadillo Wed 10-Apr-13 18:40:50

PeaceandHope, you seem so angry, maybe you need to talk to somebody about your experiences? I have to say I don't recognise the picture you're painting, where I work the only reason you might not get an epidural is because the anaesthetic team is busy elsewhere (ie saving another mother and babies life potentially) or because its contraindicated for you personally (which would have been discussed well beforehand). I have a policy of never offering pain relief, but I tell all women what their options are and that when they feel they need it all they have to do is ask and we can talk about what they would prefer.

Water births pushed on the NHS? The last place I worked before now the pool was used to store the birthing balls.

Home births pushed on the NHS? Personally I had my on call cancelled for spurious reasons and I had to fight, yes fight, to get it reinstated and I believe I was only successful because I knew the system and who to contact.

Inductions refused until 42 weeks? Try telling that to our induction midwife who performs on average 5-10 inductions per day, many for maternal request or 'social reasons'.

Hospital based midwifery has huge intervention rates so I find it baffling that you deny this. We get a lot wrong but we also get a lot right.

Xenia Wed 10-Apr-13 18:47:34

Yes, HolidayA same here. I had an awful negotiation when I was only 22 and wanted a home birth for baby 1 and we compromised on a 6 hour transfer - birth in NHS hospital and home that day which was okay but I certainly never felt the NHS was pushing mothers towards home births.

Same with inductions - had I been on the NHS they would have induced the twins at 38 weeks, no question and I researched that etc and wants to take the risk of having them later which was safe as they were being monitored regularly by my midwives.

StarlightMcKenzie Wed 10-Apr-13 18:48:19

'- they have moved the unit several times within the hospital and I found the current unit a bit depressing and dingy.'

What do you mean? I thought it was a stand alone unit in it's own building.

I agree about the transfer hospitals though. I wasn't too keen on the idea of being transfered to Barnet.

Chunderella Sat 13-Apr-13 16:54:58

Do you have any evidence for your claim that in the UK there has been a much bigger problem with women having unwanted intervention than vice versa, Xenia? I mean actual evidence, not anecdote: clearly it is valid for women to share our experiences but I'm sure we all know that it has its limitations in terms of analysing what actually goes on. Lest anyone should think me biased, I refused a sweep at term and syntocin during a prolonged latent phase, the latter meeting with more disapproval than the former. I was then denied the epidural that I begged for, so spent a lot of time labouring without pain relief, and consented to syntocin and ventouse during the delivery. So I have experience with both refusing and being refused intervention, and of undergoing intervention. There, that should tick enough boxes with both sides!

Oh, I don't say this to have a dig, but having read many of your posts I've an idea how old your DC are, indeed I think your eldest is about my age. By my recollection, you had your youngest around the millennium or so. Well, maternity services have become rather more stretched since the last time you did it. There have been baby booms, and also women have been giving birth whilst older, bigger and more ill than when you first started. Obviously this doesn't invalidate what you have to say, but do please consider that things are very different now from how they were in the mid 80s and even perhaps in the early noughties. There were some stats posted here the other week, possibly by Shagmund suggesting that one eighth of women did not receive adequate and timely pain relief during labour. About 600,000-650,000 women give birth in the UK every year. You're looking at 50k as a minimum. We're a big group.

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