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UCH, Whittington or Royal Free?

(132 Posts)
sazza1970 Sun 25-Jan-09 11:07:28

Just wondering if anyone could help me decide where to have my baby. The Whittington is our closest hospital, and I'm due to go there at present (I'm 18 weeks), but have heard mixed reports; I'm considering the Royal Free as it's relatively near and is a bigger teaching hospital; UCH would be my first choice if it wasn't so far away. I'm an older first time mum (38) and am feeling really anxious about this decision. I've done tours of the Royal free and Whittington, but UCH doesn't allow you to look round... does anyone have any advice?

elkiedee Sat 31-Jan-09 21:56:45

I've found antenatal care at the Whittington to be of generally great quality, though I've also been able to do routine antenatal midwife appointments, the last few in first pregnancy and all but initial one this time, at local health centre 5 minutes walk from home.

lecohen Sat 31-Jan-09 21:57:20

wanted to add though that I almost delivered at Royal Free but discharged myself due to poor quality care and lack of staff on ward so not much better!

Aranea Sat 31-Jan-09 22:05:28

I had a bad experience at the Royal Free in 2004. When I got pg again last year I went to talk to the head of midwifery (I think. or maybe consultant midwife. can't remember her title) who was incredibly nice and sympathetic and said they wanted to find a way to support me through this second birth and enable me to feel I could return to the Royal Free. She then failed to follow up in any way, didn't return calls and failed to find my notes. I didn't go back.

I've heard lots of bad stories about the Royal Free, and bad reports from doctors who have worked in maternity there.

I have heard good things about UCH from everyone I know who's been there. Personally I wouldn't worry about the distance - if you're near the Whittington I think it can't be more than about a half hour drive to UCH, and if it's your first baby it's likely to take longer than that!

bundle Sun 01-Feb-09 19:57:46

er starlight
no one can predict if their situation is goign to be normal/straightforward

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 01-Feb-09 22:14:04

Message withdrawn

Turniphead1 Sun 01-Feb-09 22:26:44

Based solely on word of mouth over last 5 years in my local area (right in the heart of the triangle surrounded by these 3 hospitals). I would say;

1. Whittington
2. UCH
3. Royal Free ( i hear nothing but negatives about that place even though it's birth centre is newer than Whittington etc..)

As I say - not my own experience (save that I had 80% of my antenatal care with the Whittington with Dc1 and all my home midwife visits postnatally with the Whittington Highgate team with all 3 - and was always very impressed by the care).

( we went for Edgeware Birth Centre first and St JOhn and St Elizabeths second and third time)

Mammina Sun 01-Feb-09 22:53:17

I had DD at the whittington, mainly chose it bec it's literally up the road - had to have elective c-section due to breech baby.

Pre-natal care was absolutely fine, lots of waiting & hard to get appts (am going back for DC2 and have already been told I can't get the 16 week appt til 19 weeks bec that's the only availability they have).

I was impressed by the alternative treatments they offered - I had acupuncture & some seeds stuck to my ear hmm (pressure points) to try and turn DD around

The care I had at the operating theatre was fantastic & everything seemed clean & new, recovery room & staff also great.
Once I was wheeled back to the post natal ward it was like going back to the 1940s though - the beds, curtains etc were ancient, it was VERY crammed in there & they were clearly understaffed & it was really hard to get the staff's attention.

Mixed feelings about the post natal staff, some were lovely, some lacked a bit of sensitivity and tact.

Am going back there for no. 2 though as I say as I think that everywhere you go on the NHS is going to be understaffed. Since I was last there (2007), one of the midwives told me they have had a bit of a refurb, although she said it was hardly luxury but certainly better.

StarlightMcKenzie Sun 01-Feb-09 22:55:48

Message withdrawn

bundle Mon 02-Feb-09 22:48:28

it wasn't normal no. but other non-normal things that happen like tears, foetal distress, obstructed labour etc do happen. and it's good that professionals are there to be in control of those situations on behalf of the woman/child. it is a false dichotomy to say that there are situations which are "normal" where a woman is in control and non-normal ones where she isn't. I made fully informed decisions in a partnership with the people I trusted, who shared information with me.
I was having a baby, not a birth.

Turniphead1 Tue 03-Feb-09 16:34:59

starlight sure. you may recall that I recommended Edgware to you on your thread when you were deciding where to give birth grin (if memory serves)...
Although I chose to give birth at Edgware, I ended up being tranferred to Barnet for failure to progress (was in active labour for a full 24 hours). I had an unassisted delivery (by the skin of my teeth, they were waving the ventouse at me...) with epidural there. That didn't put me off though, I still rave about the place (edgware) and would have loved to have given birth there.

My experience of the postnatal care at Barnet (allowed home after 12 hours - not having slept for 72 hours and with b'feeding not even started never minded established...) put me off the NHS postnatally. I don't know if you are familiar with John and Lizzies - but it is very similar to Edgaware in ethos (high waterbirth rate etc) although does have drs (and anaesthetists (sp) etc but no neonatal care. I was also prepared to fork out extra to go there because I wanted to use the counselling service and get to know the midwives who would deliver my baby (which indeed I did, and by coincidence the same two m/ws delivered by DS and DD2). I also wanted to stay in hospital (in a restful environment ie own room) for a couple of days and knew at Edgware you get a night maximum.

But if we hadn't have had the money to go private I probably would have gone, private midwife for homebirth as first choice, Edgware second.

PrettyCandles Tue 03-Feb-09 16:42:14

UCH encouraged us to look around, but only on booked tours after 30-something weeks. I had my first two dcs there, despite it being inconveniently far for me.

I found the staff to be fantastic. Very caring and helpful. Even the one m/w with whom I did not get on was obvioulsly treating me the best she felt for me. Despite my having a poor first labour with her, I still chose to have my second there, and don't regret it at all.

Labour ward was excellent, though at the time there were no ensuite delivery rooms. Post-natal wards overcrowded and food poor, but staff lovely.

Last child born there 6y ago, so things may have changed, of course.

Specialist care available onsite - to which I was refered. Also excellent.

I was booked-in with my thrid dc when we moved out of London, and I prefered to continue as much as possible of my AN care there, even tho it meant that I had a dreadful trip for each appointment, until all the tests and scans were finished at about 25w.

averagemum Tue 03-Feb-09 17:54:02

Another vote for the Whittington - had a great experience there in September with really two lovely midwives who read my birth plan and did everything to help me have a natural birth, even when I wasn't sure I could do it. One was pretty stern at the outset, but by the end she was cutting her break short so that she could be there for the big moment! Plus every time I had a worry in the weeks leading up to the birth I could ring or go up to the labour ward and be seen and reassured. As someone else said, though, the postnatal ward is VERY noisy and VERY cramped. If it's just up the road (was for us, and walked home the next day - not such a great idea) I would go for it.

2pt4kids Tue 03-Feb-09 18:01:51

Gosh, cant believe so may bad experiences at the Royal Free!
Wish I'd known that before DS1 was born there and maybe things wouldnt have gone so pear shaped!

Mammina Tue 03-Feb-09 18:14:37

Just to add to Turniphead's comment, even though I didn't give birth there (breech), Edgware Birth Centre is lovely. Only difficulties I've heard of is when you need to be transferred, sometimes Barnet can be full so you have to go to the next hospital wherever that is.
averagemum if you had your DC at the whittington in september and say it was cramped, was this pre or post 'refurb'?

SnowlightMcKenzie Tue 03-Feb-09 22:11:49

Thank you Turniphead. Yes it was me, you were talking to in my wild pre-birth panic and thank you again.

I have heard fantastic things about J&L but wouldn't be able to afford it. However, if I could, my experience at the Edgware would probably have me booking there again. It was great.

hellymelly Tue 03-Feb-09 22:15:42

do not go to the Royal Free! no no no! UCH is the best of those,the whittington is not on my radar much I must admit,but my friend nearly died there some years ago so that sways me away from it,it wasn't in the maternity dept I hasten to add.UCH is great,they have the best consultants and the best expertise.I am an oledr mother too and I had two babies there,in the old building.The new building rather more glam!

hellymelly Tue 03-Feb-09 22:19:43

I want to add that the RF is totally disorganised and they are very bad at communicating between teams.If you have an easy birth then anywhere would probably be fine,but if there are probs with the pregnancy at any point then I would recommend UCH.

januarysnowdrop Wed 04-Feb-09 11:12:28

Just had dd2 at UCH in the birthing centre last week - I had dd1 there as well in June 2007 in the old building. Both times it was great - good ante-natal care (I saw the same midwife for every appointment during this pregnancy), lovely midwife for the birth: she really inspired confidence and I ended up with no stitches, woo hoo! The new building is a bit soulless and the windows are frosted so you can't see out which I thought was a shame, but on the other hand I had my own bathroom which was heavenly - last time round I had to stumble down the corridor to the loo which wasn't much fun, especially after giving birth. They let you stay in your own room in the birthing centre after the birth if they're not too busy, so I didn't have to go to the post-natal ward on either occasion.

averagemum Wed 04-Feb-09 17:40:26

Migola - I think it was pre-, in fact I think we were all in some random temporary ward while the furb was happening (which might explain things!). Good luck with it all.

Mammina Wed 04-Feb-09 19:33:55

ok great, thanks. whatever they've done can only be an improvement.
my mum's face when she walked in was a picture!

theyoungvisiter Wed 04-Feb-09 19:43:07

I've had 2 babies at the Whit, I'd echo the "run-down but caring staff" review, though of course like anywhere it depends who you get on the day and how busy they are, a lot of it is luck of the draw.

If you are lucky enough to be low-risk they do have an absolutely superb home birth team, I honestly couldn't rate them higher, it was complete 4* luxury after a hospital birth!

I have numerous friends who've used both RF and UCH. Anecdotally I've heard that UCH is very good but seems to be quite interventionist and "medical" iykwim. RF seems to be ok if you are lucky enough to have a straight-forward pregnancy, labour and delivery, but they don't seem to cope as well with complicated scenarios as the other two. I know of a couple of people who had hellish experiences at the RF and one who had a bad time at UCH. I don't know anyone who had a bad delivery at the Whit although few people have good things to say about the post-natal wards... hth..

wobbegong Wed 04-Feb-09 20:02:53

What nkf said: Your individual experience will depend on your labour and the midwives on the night. Do you want to know a secret? It probably doesn't matter. I'd say go for your nearest. Think about not just the labour but how you will get to ante-natal appointments and if your baby needs to stay in/ go back into hospital afterwards. (I don't mean to be depressing, it happened to me and I was very glad that I had chosen a hospital which is easy to get to. The Whittington BTW. Horrible postnatal ward but by then you're past caring because you're clutching a baby!).

Also, the canteen does nice curries once a week. grin

fiplus4 Wed 04-Feb-09 20:23:47

Had all 4 of mine at the Whit from age of 35 to 41. First was a 31 week poorly premmie who had the most brilliant care in NICU, then two high risk pregnancies - one IUGR and one with twins. Echo that the prenatal experience was better than post natal (for me, not the LOs!). Supportive staff much more important than the state of the curtains.

agraves Fri 06-Feb-09 14:42:00

I have asked my GP to refer me to RF, the closet hospital to us... but reading this chat, I am now not sure if I made the right decission.
I am terrified of pain and brith, I am only 7 weeks pregnant and I have had insomnia for the last week, wondering how labour will be.
Do you think that going private is a definite solution to my worries?
Will that provide a piece of mind? and a propper care?

dinkystinky Fri 06-Feb-09 20:22:02

Agraves - maybe you should look into engaging a doula to be with you during the birth; they'll help you work through your issues before the birth...

I gave birth to DS at the Royal Free in 2006 and had a horrible time, but that was down to one particularly crap midwife during my labour and several awful midwives on the postnatal ward; however, to be fair, I did come across a few wonderful midwives while I was there and the SCBU team were all absolutely fantastic! My birth doula lives close to the Royal Free and apparently they are trying to work with local doulas to see what they can do to improve womens' birth experiences there - that at least shows that they are aware of a problem and have some wish to rectify it... Please also bear in mind that you can always change hospitals if you're unhappy with the RF...

However, am pregnant with no 2 and have moved to a different area of London so have booked in at a different hospital (as had more of a choice this time). One of my friends is booked in at the Royal Free for her second baby (she had the first one there but had a better experience than me) and has told me that while the midwives are fine, the new computer system is awful and means huge delays waiting for scans, referrals etc. - I hope that all gets sorted out before you go there.

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