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Kensington Wing v The Portland v Lindo

(20 Posts)
Babyloveslisa Mon 28-Sep-09 13:06:01


I am considering having a private birth and am 5 weeks pregnant. Am 36, but in good health. I know this sounds silly, but I am a very petite 5'2" and have a strapping 6' 2" husband. For this reason im thinking of having the peace of mind of a private birth.

Please could anyone tell me if they have any opinion on which of the above is the best? I live in Earls Court, and plan to use the nhs up to 32 weeks to save money with the scans etc..

Thanks so much for any information

L x

minervaitalica Mon 28-Sep-09 14:03:06

Ehm, your relative sizes do not mean anything! I am the same height as you, and my husband is 6'1", but I had a very easy birth.

Also, should you or your baby have complications (which is not the norm so do not worry!), you may be better off in the NHS anyway. A friend of mine had a difficult pregnancy (bed rest from 24 weeks); she was private (Kensington wing), but they basically moved her to NHS as they could not do much more for her anyway.

I cannot talk about the other two, but the Lindo wing is extremely popular anyway so you would have to book in now - you cannot just change at 32 weeks as far as I know. And besides, I would be very nervous about changing care at 32 weeks - it was quite reassuring for me to recognise the faces of the midwives/doctors by then when things were 'heating up'.

If money is an issue, have you considered "in between" options - e.g. going via NHS but supplement it with private scans/midwife?

rubyslippers Mon 28-Sep-09 14:12:33

an NHS birth is still the best way to go IMO

also, your baby's size will be monitored if anything shows up at any point (for example, i had a growth scan at 26 weeks as baby was measuring small)

a private birth will cost £££

onemoretimetoday Mon 28-Sep-09 14:15:03

I would go somewhere where your baby will be an NHS patient even if you are private. A friend has just had a baby at the Portland and been stung for £100's for blood tests and minor checks on the baby that she didn't realise she would be charged for.

squiby2004 Mon 28-Sep-09 14:19:46

I had my DD at the Lindo wing but looked around all 3 of these and John and Lizzes as well. I was very high risk as had developed PE at circa 25 weeks and had IUGR as well as sever hyperemersis. What swung it for me was the care available in the event something went wrong. So the Portland and John and Lizzies were out as both transfer in the event you become critical (actually quite a bit before that!!)

You should be aware you wont save much by being NHS until 32 weeks ads you pay most of your consultants fees for the last 8 weeks, delivery and post natal care. Also its highly unlikely you will still find a space at The Lindo past 12 weeks of pregnancy and most likley the same for the Kensington as both are small and popular choices for private deliveries.


minervaitalica Mon 28-Sep-09 16:58:35

Whatever you decide to do, pls make sure you visit all 3 (and perhaps a couple of NHS units) before you make a decision - other people's opinions can only count so much in deciding something which is so "private". You need to be comfortable with whatever it is that you choose.

Squiby raised a good point - I would not go to a hospital without a NICU - yes babies can be transferred quickly if necessary, but at St.Mary's Intensive care unit there were babies whose mothers were stuck in another hospital recovering (one I am sure was at the Portland), while their baby was in the neonatal unit at St.Mary's... I am pretty sure you would not want that.

MiniLlace Mon 28-Sep-09 17:07:37

Hi Babyloveslisa - I think personal choice is very important as what is key is that you and DH are comfortable with the choices you have made .. I too am a 5ft 2" with a husband around 6ft - at the 20 week scan out DD was in the top quartle for growth but since then has moved to the bottom quartile - so I would echo others that i dont think there is correlation! .. as for the NHS I have to say i started out on this pregnancy journey also wanting private care and deciding for at least private scans - which I had - however after having an extra NHS scan at 32 weeks I have to say I am very impressed - ok so the waiting area isnt so lovely (I was at the Fetel Medicine Centre in Harley St for my private scans ) but as soon as you walk into the scan room there really is no difference and certainly no difference in the level of care ... the only thing i liked is for the nucal scan at the FMC you do both bloods and scans on the same day and get results there and then (good when you are a little concerned). Since then I have had some issues in late pregnancy and have to say totally changed my mind on the NHS - the level of care and also support I have received has been incredible and far outshone what I was expecting ... if you can get your head around the fact the buildings are maybe a little scruffy around the edges - I would go for the NHS now everytime - good luck with the choices you make!

Babyloveslisa Mon 28-Sep-09 18:02:58

Thanks everyone. I really appreciate all your advice. Am now off to visit the kensington wing at c+w, then i will look around the nhs side of c+w on tomorrows tour. Im also doing the same for St Thomas as well x

alana39 Mon 28-Sep-09 18:48:50

Do try to look past the surroundings. Obviously they should be clean, but going somewhere that looks a bit old and tatty is not a reflection of the care you will get, and an NHS unit will generally have the best possible care should complications arise even if the "hotel" side of things leave alot to be desired. If you can get private room in an NHS hospital it is likely to be safer for you and the baby if something goes wrong, and if there is a problem due to a large baby you could be seeing the same consultants on the NHS - for free, albeit with longer waits at clinic likely (having said that I have never waited for any appointment ever as long as I did for a private 12 week scan this pg which has put me off private treatment for good!)

herethereandeverywhere Tue 29-Sep-09 07:37:49

Re: St Thomas's, they do same day results on the nuchal fold and bloods if you're NHS but C&W don't.

sambo2 Tue 29-Sep-09 13:35:25

I am in TOTAL agreement that NHS care, once you are in the throws of labour is excellent (I had my DS at St George's). Yes the building is tatty, the aftercare is a bit ropey (only because it is so busy) but the doctors are superb, the equipment is first class and my baby arrived safely and I was fine. However, next time I will go privately...

I was very 'pro' pain relief grin and on the NHS, you are not given anything until you are in established labour - I was sent home 3 times and was in excruciating agony for 24 hours. By the time I was given an epidural I had been trying to 'cope' with the pain for so long that I was exhausted before the real marathon began! To be honest, I will pay to go privately so that the moment I go into labour, I will be taken into a private room, given pain control and be looked after in a 'civilised' manner (rather than the complete loss of dignity being admitted onto the labour ward first time round blush).

I would only ever choose a private ward in an NHS hospital - so C&W or Thomas's for the reasons already given.

minervaitalica Tue 29-Sep-09 14:46:07

sambo2, that's awful re: pain relief...

But it is not always the case - I know at St.Mary's they give you the epidural when you need it (regardless of dilation etc), assuming the anest. is available (but that is the same in every hospital). They basically have the same policy for both NHS and the Lindo wing side.

onemoretimetoday Tue 29-Sep-09 15:10:15

I disagree what NHS care once you are in the system is excellent. It CAN be excellent and probably is excellent if you have complications in pregnancy, and I've been on the recieving end of excellent care but it can also be absolutely dire. IF it's a quiet day and IF staffng levels are adequate then the likelihood is that you'll be in good hands. If it's a busy day and a couple of midwives call in sick / are on a course then it can be a whole different story and this is where the problems emerge. 9 times out of 10 the results will be favourable but the NHS units, particularly in London are massively short staffed and delivering far too many babies.

I work with maternity units as part of my job and have heard on many occasions, excellent experienced midwives, mainly in London, telling me that they're managing one midwife between 3-4 mothers and are relying on fathers to look after their partners in labour. That is not right, they are extremely unhappy about it and it's frightening.

After 2 NHS births I'm having a private delivery in an NHS hospital because it's the only way I can guarantee a midwife with me throughout labour (not interested in a homebirth). I am not high risk but my biggest concern is that on a busy night the 3rd time mum with 2 easy deliveries is the one who will be left by the wayside if there are more urgent cases and IMO that's how problems occur. A minor aside is that I would also like privacy and comfort afterwards but I could get over that if I were confident that there were enough staff to deliver my baby safely. For me, that's what a private delivery buys.

minervaitalica Tue 29-Sep-09 16:32:37

Onemoretimetoday - you made an informed choice given your knowledge and specific requirements, and I hope you have a good experience!

However, a private birth is also not necessarily always safer/better (I am a prime example, and I had no complications in pregnancy!), and I did feel the OP was going into "private is best" without necessarily having considered all options. Once she does get all the info, like you I am sure she will make the best choice given her circumstances

onemoretimetoday Tue 29-Sep-09 17:00:17

minervaitalica I think that you are absolutely right and I certainly wouldn't be swayed with private is best without researching it properly. I think it's very important decision to make and one that needs to be made taking into account all circumstances and researching it in a lot of detail. If the OP is considering a private delivery then I'd suggest booking into an NHS hospital she is considering and asking for a consultant appointment with a consultant who also delivers privately, if she can't get that then to pay for a one off appointment, and discuss the pros and cons of a private delivery with that consultant. If he's worth his salt then he'll give her an honest answer as to what differences she could expect to see.

Karoleann Tue 29-Sep-09 19:20:23

I've used Lansdell Suite at St Thomas' which was very good the first time, but decided to use the Portland for my next delivery as its closer. Both were excellent.
My husband is actually 6'6" and I'm 5'4" and I didn't have particularly big babies.
I did start off on the NHS with my first, but it was absolutley dire - lost notes, lost blood, huge waits, dirty consulting rooms, numerous cancelled appointments and staff with a really poor grasp of English.
I just didn't feel safe letting them care for my very important child. I actually think that you're better going for private antenatal and then NHS birth, if you can't afford both.
The birth at the portland was more expensive than the Landsell suite >£10,000, but the do have cheaper options for example midwife lead rather than consultant.
I'd make appointments at all the centres and see which suits you best. I used Dr Gibb at the Portland who has extremely good.
Incidentally, most of my friends went on the NHS had especially those who had babies in the last year have had positive experiences.

Babyloveslisa Tue 29-Sep-09 20:47:59

Thanks everyone, I have just got back from looking at private and nhs options at both c+w and Tommy's.I am low risk apparently and plan to have a natural birth, if possible.

I was incredibly impressed by The Home from Home Birth Rooms at St Thomas', so much so that i think they are just as nice as the ones privately (and the best views!). You get to stay the whole duration of the labour and post natal in them, with a nice ensuite bathroom with a bath in there too. The birthing pools are fantastic too!

I didnt care much for the nhs side of c+W however. Very crammed, poorly ventilated and a noisy reception desk by the wards. The Kensington Wings is lovely, perhaps a little soul less. But the staff were so great, happy to answer never ending stream of ridiculous questions. Very re-assuring ladies. And a nice and quiet atmosphere too.

I live right round the corner from the kensington Wing, so it would be a very short and pleasent walk for everything drom the 12th week onwards. However, The Home from Home at Tommy's is £6000 cheaper, still involves a private room, great views and a fab birthing pool.. but would involve registering in Clapham at a surgery near my old flat to be in the catchment area (apparently they are not taking anyone from outside their postcode catchment area). Ir also then involves travelling over there from our home in Earls Court(a 30 minute drive)for all my ante-natal. Maybe this is not such a hard ship?

Going to have a long hard think about it all.. any opinions gratefully taken on board!

minervaitalica Wed 30-Sep-09 09:38:47

If you want a natural birth, have you tried Johns and Lizzies? May be closer/easier than St. Thomas for you. Also, St.Mary's has got a brand new midwife led centre which opened a year ago - it's NHS but apparently it is fab (not been there myself though).

TBH travelling for ante-natal care is hardly the problem (30 mins is fine). The issue is will you be happy to sit in the car/taxi for 30 mins stuck in traffic whilst in labour and in pain? If I had done that DD would have been born in the taxi anyway (very rare!) - but I would give this issue some thought, given that you have a choice of hospitals.

PS: I am not sure whether this has been made clear, but the fact that you are low risk now does not mean you will remain low risk for the rest of the pregnancy. I am not sure whether this affects your choices though!

spicemonster Wed 30-Sep-09 09:43:10

John and Lizzies you still have the problem that there is no neonatal care. My friend had complications during her birth (low risk pregnancy) and her baby ended up in Tommy's while she remained in John and Lizzie's which was horrible for her. I'd definitely go for the private wing attached to NHS (or indeed the birth centre at Tommy's - have heard excellent reports about that).

TheHappyCat Wed 30-Sep-09 21:53:22

The Ken wing is great, have had two babies there. Personally, in Earl's Court, I think it's a no brainer. However, you can't generally just switch when you fancy at 32 weeks or even earlier - you could struggle, although there is a recession on and the unit is bigger... but you would unlikely get in on the midwife care and the best doctors would be long booked (I booked mine at 4 weeks, for example).
Although I am a huge fan of the Kensington wing, if the money is an issue, I would not shell out. I know plenty of friends very happy with their C&W care on the NHS. People say the postnatal is a bit unpleasant, but you are generally only there for a short time - and there may always be the option to pay the £850+ per night and do postnatal on the Ken wing.
The length of your baby makes no difference, it's the size of the head that counts!!

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