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Has anyone actually used the Home from Home Birth Centre at St Thomas' ?

(31 Posts)
charitygirl Thu 03-Jul-08 16:57:01

I went for a tour and loved it - my dream birth would be to start off in the 'garden', deliver in one of the pools, and then toddle off to deliver the placenta in one of the lovely rooms. Naive I'm sure but it sounds nice! When we looked round, all these facitlities could be viewed because there was no one in them. Didn't think anything of it but...

...last night, at my first NCT class, the teacher said 'Yes it's lovely, but I bet it was empty wasn.t it? No one ever gets to use it sadly'. She said that women get moved to the consultant led unit v quickly/unecessarily, and that midwives get diverted there when there are emergencies leaving the Home from Home unstaffed and they 'close' it.

Now I know NCT teachers are very home/natual birth and she was doing a hard sell on the home birth. BUT it did sound plausible so I thought I'd see if any MNers had used it/had a good experience. I don't want to be expecting to use it only to find out it was never really on the cards.

TheBlonde Thu 03-Jul-08 17:51:46

One friend has used it twice

I was in the consultant unit which was perfectly good

mamado Thu 03-Jul-08 18:04:15

I nearly used it once...but the labour was long and complicated so needed to go to the hospital bit round the corner...was lovely though, and very quiet. Second time I really really wanted an epidural (bad memories from first time! shock) so insisted on going to the hospital side. In the end there was no time for an epidural and everyone was most surprised I wasn't in the home from home bit....in retrospect, I should have gone there and had nicer surroundings, but then when you are 9cm dilated the surroundings are the least of your concerns! Or mine anyway!!!

Also a friend has used it twice and thought it was fanatstic. Who can beat that view anyway! smile

edamdepompadour Thu 03-Jul-08 18:12:16

Very nice but terribly short-staffed. Advantages were that dh could stay with me overnight (and I had a lovely view of the Thames and Houses of Parliament. Very nice after the birth, didn't really take much notice during). Disadvantages were there was only one midwife for seven women. Shocking. But that was 2003 - if you can get guarantees on staffing, I'd recommend it.

I had to talk my way into it because I was a slightly higher risk candidate but the head of midwifery was happy to talk things over with me - why not contact her and say you've heard these rumours, are they accurate?

TheBlonde Thu 03-Jul-08 18:37:57

alas I think 1 MW to 7 women is not unusual in London

fridayschild Thu 03-Jul-08 18:51:29

7 people from my NCT class went to Tommys. 2 of us gave birth in the home from home section, and everyone else ended up with an epidural and/or c/section and you have to go to the "medical" bit for that. Maybe your teacher is framing your expectations - is she Caroline Flint?

The night DS1 was born the Home from Home was closed due to staff shortages, but no-one else got that problem. This was also in 2003.

I spoke to the head of midwifery in 2004 re trying for a home birth VBAC and I thought she was very nice, good suggestion from Edam.

charitygirl Thu 03-Jul-08 20:43:28

Fridayschild - yes, she is! How funny...

Thank you all that's incredibly helpful/reassuring - reminds me that it will be OK even if I do go to the consultant led bit. May well speak to hed of midwifery - would love to at least start in pool before doubtless waddling off to consultant unit for epidural

Can't believe that ONE NCT class has already turned my head so much into obsessing about natural birth! Dur!

edamdepompadour Thu 03-Jul-08 22:00:58

that's shocking, the Blonde - do you really mean one midwife to seven women in full-blown labour? Ye Gods. The community midwives told me (after I'd had ds) that Tommy's had a reputation for being 'lucky' because they hadn't managed to kill anyone despite the staff shortages. I got away with a third-degree tear because the midwife wasn't there to help me with the urge to push.

charitygirl Thu 03-Jul-08 22:25:59

ok, that's a bit less reassuring wink

shreddies Thu 03-Jul-08 22:30:32

I started in the home from home unit but moved to the more medical bit as I had a ginormous back to back baby and labour was more difficult than I had anticipated <understatement>

But, it is lovely and a friend of mine attained the holy grail of natural childbirth - an analgesia free birth in a pool

It was empty when I was there, one other birth going on and I had a midwife with me the whole time both there and in the consultant led bit. That was last year.

2HotCrossBunnies Thu 03-Jul-08 22:34:43

I had both my boys at Tommys. Ds1 was "private" so in the hospital bit in the end (I had to be induced eventually and then painful forceps delivery) but the consultnt was happy for me to start off in the Home from Home bit and I did at least avoid a c-section which the junior doc was desperate to do!
DS2 was on the nhs and born on the floor of the room in which the pool was! I had the same midwife and student throughout, DH could stay the night and the views fabulous! We got married at St Margarets on Parliament Sq so it was lovely to look out of the window at the lights twinkling on the Thames holding my new baby and show it to him.
Am soooo broody at the moment and DC3 (fingers crossed!) will be born there too.

moodlumthehoodlum Thu 03-Jul-08 22:36:54

I loved it.

But failed to use it (despite my lovely midwife willing it on me). I needed to be induced, then I ended up with an emergency c-section. Second time round I had a planned section, so its just a dream for me!

mrsbabookaloo Thu 03-Jul-08 22:36:56

Hi, yes it was empty when I went to visit too.
I was determined to give birth there and almost managed it. They tried to turn me away when I arrived at 3am as it was full, but I stood my ground (actually, I just looked upset...well you would, wouldn't you, mid-contractions) and they changed their minds. It didn't seem very full...

I was there for about a day and a half trying to give birth and it was lovely: the midwives were excellent and I had one to myself all night who never left us alone and in the day I had another one and a trainee who never left my side for 12 hours, then the night one came back on shift and came to find me!

I was able to stay moving the whole time, they just monitored me with a thingummy...(you know...sorry, can't remember)I used the pool; it seems there is always one free, but I did have to ask...I was stupidly assuming they had read my birth plan, and knew I was waiting to be told I could get in it. When I finally asked, they were like, Oh OK, sure! Anyway, the pool was great.

In the end dd was born in theatre on the medical side. They transferred me over for syntocin and an epidural when they thought I was getting too tired and then her heartrate dropped and I was rushed into theatre ER-stylee. But that's my story, and just down to circumstance.

Suffice it to say, definitely ask to start out in the home from home: it's great. And if you do give birth there, you'll get to stay in your own room, rather than braving the wards, which was where I ended up post CS.

Also musn't forget to mention the fantastic views. Mid-labour, I was naked in the home form home, back to the window, showing my arse to Tony Blair et al. And in the ward, stunning views of the Thames for my bleary eyes in the morning.

moodlumthehoodlum Thu 03-Jul-08 22:38:09

Oh, and if you can end up in the private Lansdell suite, so much the better.

I loved my FIVE DAYS there after both sections. It was like a holiday with childcare.

mrsbabookaloo Thu 03-Jul-08 22:38:30

Cross posts: so many similar experiences!

mrsbabookaloo Thu 03-Jul-08 22:40:28

Sorry, now I see everyone mentioned the views. Didn't read properly. I should go to bed.

Good luck! When are you due?

charitygirl Fri 04-Jul-08 09:45:35

End of September - I'm feeling a lot more positive after reading all this, thank you so much.

ConfusedBiscuit Fri 04-Jul-08 18:09:10

Sorry to hijack but moodlumthehoodlum how did you end up on the Lansdell Suite?.

I'm probably going to have an elective c section at St Thomas' in about a month (breech twins!) and am dreading spending up to five nights on the ward afterwards.

snickersnack Fri 04-Jul-08 18:16:14

I was due to give birth in the home from home (head of midwifery agreed despite it being a VBAC) but when I got there they were worried about ds being in distress so I never got my waterbirth as spent all my time in the consultant led bit. But, it was still great - so much better (and cleaner!) than Chelsea and Westminster, I had a midwife to myself the whole time, the room was large and had balls etc. Didn't really mind too much, though would have been nice not ending up on the postnatal ward and having my own room. But I can't recommend Thomas's highly enough.

TheBlonde Fri 04-Jul-08 18:16:17

you or your health insurance pays

TheBlonde Fri 04-Jul-08 18:18:06

sorry x posts - mine was to ConfusedBiscuit

ConfusedBiscuit Fri 04-Jul-08 18:34:35

But I thought you could only use it if you were using their private antenatal care etc, not just pay to stay in one of the rooms after the birth (?)

1dilemma Sat 05-Jul-08 01:12:33

3 but never managed the Home from Home sad (twice was due to staff shortages) as I said to my community mw I'll just have to try again grin

Garden is always empty (they do want everyone to go in late in labour so I suppose that's why)

other bits were fine, postnatal less so but that is partly due to my disappointment at not being in HFH I think and the last time they had made a lot of changes which did improve things.

serenity Sat 05-Jul-08 01:25:37

It wasn't there when I had the DSs (the labour ward shut for the refurbishment the month after I had DS2!) but I was determined to get in there with DD in 2003. Unfortunately I was counted as a slightly higher risk (although they never explained exactly why) so when I turned up there at 6am I wasn't allowed in because of staffing issues hmm In the end I wasn't there long enough for it to matter, but I was a little disappointed.

1dilemma Tue 08-Jul-08 00:20:45

so charitygirl what do you think? looks a bit bleak for the home from home doesn't it?
good thread this I'd never thought to ask. An additional point is I did get put there after one birth (they needed a room pronto) and was just settling in when in came someone and whisked me away to postnatal can't remember what reason they gave but the place was empty hmm

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