Caroline Flint is THE top dog. She's a highly respected campaigner and writer, as well as a midwife. I didn't have her personally but I used the Birth centre that she runs - if you want choices then it's superb. Yuo don;t even have to decide in advance whether you want the baby at home, at the birth centre, or in hospital. Doesn't come cheap though - you'd find plenty of otehr independent midwives at much less. And at the end of the day it's a very personal choice.
I used Alison Herron, twice. She's absolutely lovely, and much cheaper than the Birth Center. I think she only covers East London, though, and she's having a baby this winter herself, so I don't know what her bookings are like. (She might be able to recommend others?) Like any other independent midwife, she'll support a hospital birth, if that's what you end up with. (I had sections, both times, and still felt she was worthwhile.)
We met with the Birth Center folks, and thought they were fine, but the people who came to see us weren't the same folks who do your delivery! I didn't like signing up for a service until I'd met the actual hands-on midwives.
Alison Herron mostly does Home Births, I think every independant midwife who doesn't have a birth centre does. Because of insurance problems, independant midwives become supporters when they enter a hospital - they cannot generally act as your midwife inside the hospital.
rouge, cf is absolutely marvellous! she was my ante-natal teacher and i know quite a few people for whom she delivered babies. however, her charges reflect her position at the top of her field together with an affluent and sometimes celebrity clientele.
you're also paying for the upkeep of the birth centre, as hatter mentioned - worthwhile thinking about whether you would use that option. for us it was home, with hospital a back-up, so didn't see the point/need of the birth centre for us. however, i have been there - it is a good half way house if you are a little nervous about a home birth.
i recommend withoutreservation annie francis and teresa arias of south london independent midwives. they are absolutely wonderful and brought my wonderful dd into the world. she was a 10 1/2 lb whopper delivered in water - it all went extremely well. this was after an utter nightmare with ds on the nhs...
cf delivered some of annie's babies actually - small world!
although I didn't end up using CF Birth Centre, I applied for a prospectus and information about prices, the service they offer etc. In the end though i decided we just couldn't afford it. However, about a month later, i got a call from one of the midwives working for the Birth Centre to offer me a last-minute place (i had applied quite late in my pregnancy; usually you need to contact them quite soon if you want the proper service). I explained that although I was interested, we couldn't afford it. Instead of being snooty and just ringing off, the midwife chatted to me for ages about some worries I had, and said I could call them any time for some telephone advice, even though I couldnt pay for their service. She also said we could come along to some of the post-natal walks etc that they do once my baby had been born - and that this was all free of charge. I was really impressed. Maybe next time....
In had a fantastic woman at hospital who is an independent midwife and does home births her name was Verona and im am sure you could find her if you search a bit. She was absolutely phenomenal and without a doubt the only reason i managed a natural birth with only gas and air and no tearing having had a bad, epi and induction and bad tearing first time round. I can try and find out her surname if you want.
rouge, have you thought about a doula? I posted on your other thread but it strikes me that a doula might be a good half way measure, i.e. you'd get 1:1 care and support in childbirth without paying for independent midwives as the NHS would provide 2 midwives for your home birth.
HelloMama - the Birth centre has also set up a bursury/fund type thing for people who have had traumatic first births and who can't afford them for their second. Mine was a case of traumatic first time round, terrified of hospital, GP unbelievably horrible and unsupportive about home birth. so I felt quite guilty using the centre, nkowing not everyone has the means to do so. But they really are genuinely committed to what they do. When you do use them you can page them any time of night and day, which is incredibly reassuring.
hi, hope youre doing well through the holiday season , verona has her own web site which can be found at www.veronahall.co.uk her site quotes a price which seems very expensive but maybe worth giving her a call anyway, she was absolutely fantastic, i really couldnt recommend her highly enough!!!