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Anyone with experience of Labour Ward vs MLU at UCH in London?

(15 Posts)
Mimosa1 Fri 12-Dec-14 16:52:03

Hi everyone,
I'm 33 weeks and trying to decide where to give birth. I'm in the catchment area for UCH and the antenatal care so far has been great, but I'm really torn about where, of the labour ward vs. the attached birth centre, to give birth. I'd be so grateful if any lovely mumsnetters with experience of either at UCH were able to tell me about their experiences.

Mimosa1 Fri 12-Dec-14 16:53:23

I should add this is (fingers crossed) a normal, low risk birth, although I have been told the baby is back to back. Hoping it will turn around in time though as I've heard B2B labours are more painful!

larryphilanddave Fri 12-Dec-14 17:28:27

Could probably give more detail later if there was anything in particular you wanted to hear about - I have a tendency to waffle so I'm trying to avoid epic posts grin

But, I have given birth in both the MLU and the Labour Ward at UCH.

My personal preference is for the MLU, I like the way the rooms are set up - I was in the pool room and you walk in to find the pool, futon, birthing ball, etc, so everything is there to hand and it feels quite nice.

The Labour Ward rooms don't have these things out in the room, however, you can request things like the ball, mats, and there is a pool on the ward too. The Labour Ward room felt set up more in a medical way as the monitoring equipment and such is more obvious, whereas things are more concealed in the MLU (and obviously not all equipment there as you don't have monitoring in the MLU, eg, but there is other equipment just in case).

All rooms are spacious and en suite and you can have a fairly 'lazy' (!) labour in the MLU or an active one on the Labour Ward. Labour Ward doesn't mean lying on your back in stirrups (I've said this somewhere on here before, I think I was on my side, half off the bed, one leg in the air or similar when I gave birth on the Labour Ward grin Baby and I were both being monitored so couldn't go too far!).

The main thing I can say is that the MWs across both, IME, are great, and I had great experiences in both. I would opt for the MLU because it's that bit more comfortable IMO and the Labour Ward isn't necessary for low risk and if you don't want an epidural, but when I had to go to the Labour Ward due to risks that presented during labour it was all good, I still had the same support and was very happy with everything.

Mimosa1 Sat 13-Dec-14 00:04:34

Thanks Larry, that's really helpful. I didn't know they had a pool on the labour ward. That's great! May I ask how long it took to transfer you from MLU to the ward once they'd decided it was necessary?

larryphilanddave Sat 13-Dec-14 00:19:59

For my Labour Ward birth I was transferred from ACU, not the MLU, I was being induced so you start out there. The plan was to then labour in MLU provided I didn't need the drip, but whilst in ACU my waters went and meconium was present and I had to be monitored so plan was changed to Labour Ward. However labour suddenly progressed super fast and baby started to show signs of distress, whilst still in ACU which is on the same floor as the MLU. I was sped out of there and into a delivery room on the Labour Ward in a matter of minutes, no more than about 2-3mins. They ran me along using the bed I was on in ACU as that was quickest, MWs have an override key for the lift so they got it immediately (chucked out the people who were in there!), ran into the Labour Ward and straight into a delivery room.

BeginnerSAHM Sat 13-Dec-14 19:04:44

Hi - I only have experience of the labour ward as had two babies there and they were totally brilliant. I had very fast labours and was extremely scared/shocked both times and the midwives were amazing. I had doctors in the room at a few points but can't really remember those bits - I do remember how fantastic the midwives were though. Lucky you having your baby there! I'm at King's this time (we moved) and they seem v nice but I'd feel happier if I was at UCLH again.

Mimosa1 Sun 14-Dec-14 17:17:20

Thanks again, Larry and Beginner. I really want to be in the ward, I think, but the nct class has emphasised how much more (unnecessary?) intervention you're likely to have, so good to hear you've both had good experiences at the labour ward.

BeginnerSAHM Sun 14-Dec-14 17:44:25

Well... You can't go into the midwife led unit if you have any problems or complications (or are under 37 weeks) so there is necessarily more 'intervention' in the labour ward. I think it's a correlation rather than causal, if you see what I mean... I'm sure you'll be in good hands either way though! On both occasions, I only had gas and air, despite really wanting intervention (i.e. an epidural).

larryphilanddave Sun 14-Dec-14 17:49:44

Speaking to the one of the MWs on the Labour Ward - that birth was recent wth DC2, I had DC1 in the MLU - she told me how she had gone weeks without assisting in a 'normal' (ie intervention free) birth before mine; we were on a monitor but the birth was vaginal, non-instrumental, with G&A for pain relief. She said it was because the Labour Ward obviously is for higher risk births, so intervention may be more likely depending on the risks, but also because a lot of mothers who choose the Labour Ward do so because they want to have an epidural and the likelihood of intervention is increased with an epidural. So it's not simply that being on the Labour Ward means you'll likely experience intervention, but rather that it happens more due to the prevalence of higher risk births and epidural use.

The MWs want to help deliver the baby in the safest and best way possible, taking into account how you feel as well, so intervention seems to only happen where really necessary (IME of UCH).

larryphilanddave Sun 14-Dec-14 17:50:38

X-post smile

BeginnerSAHM Sun 14-Dec-14 18:22:38

Doesn't an epidural count as intervention? Going in wanting one, if so, means you're more likely to have intervention. And you're more likely to have an epidural generally if things are taking a long time and a bit more difficult for the woman. And if they are going on for a longer time, and the woman is more tired, it probably means it's harder to push the baby out so ventouse/forceps etc is more likely anyway - even without an epidural. Anyway, all I'm saying is it's impossible to say whether it's causal. Women should go wherever they think they'll be more comfortable. In my NCT group, 3 of us had our first babies in UCLH. 2 of us just had gas and air and a 'normal' vaginal birth an one had a c section. Not very statistically significant though! (All 3 of us were in the labour ward. All 3 of us over 30, under 35!)

larryphilanddave Sun 14-Dec-14 18:41:21

Sorry, I mean instrumental or surgical intervention. Like forceps, ventouse etc. So certain things would be more likely if you are high risk or opting for an epidural, if that makes sense smile

Mimosa1 Sun 14-Dec-14 22:18:05

Thanks both. Am petrified of forceps/ bad tears but also a wimp and have a b2b baby, so keen on the idea of the epidural. Aargh!! I keep telling myself it's only one day and there's a baby at the end if it... Anyway, I really appreciate the messages from you.

larryphilanddave Sun 14-Dec-14 22:26:55

Wishing you the best! flowers

MuscatBouschet Sun 14-Dec-14 22:41:43

I had a back to back baby and horribly long labour at UCH. Almost the whole time in MLU but then transferred for the final moments to labour ward for an episiotomy because I had been pushing for too long. Transferring is no big deal - they do it in less than a minute in the lift.

I highly recommend the MLU. You won't know how you'll feel about labour and pain until you try it. The atmosphere and facilities at the MLU are lovely and if you decide it is too painful and want an episiotomy then just ask to go down a floor to the labour ward.

Ps. Your baby may still turn - my second did pre-labour at 36 weeks. Also, many turn in early labour when you are at home. They won't admit you despite the turning taking forever and being very painful because you'll hardly be dilated. Not fun!!!

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