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Birth Centres - please share your experience

(22 Posts)
MissMI5 Fri 23-Sep-11 10:35:37

Hello all, I am due in 5 weeks and after a tour of my local birth centre (Whittington Hospital - North London) I have decided to give birth there. I am being assessed in 2 weeks time to ensure I am suitable (low risk pregnancy with no major health problems etc).
I would be grateful if you would share your experience of using a birth centre in general and the one at the Whittington in particular.
I had never even contemplated the option before (always wanted to go to labour ward), and I have now found myself changing my mind so suddenly and so close to giving birth that I just want to make sure I am doing the right thing (although I guess I'll never know until I actually do it!).
Thanks in advance for your help x

melliebobs Fri 23-Sep-11 11:01:14

marking my spot here as i'm interested to see what everyone else's opinions are. I have the option of a midwife lead birth centre or consultant lead busy busy maternity unit

notcitrus Fri 23-Sep-11 11:12:11

How close is the birth centre to the nearest labour ward?

I laboured in a midwife-led unit but it was on the 4th floor of hospital with main labour ward on the first floor, so when it was deemed I needed an epidural for non-labour reasons, transfer was a doddle.
I'm hoping to use the MLU again this time, hopefully staying there and actually giving birth in it - it was lovely. It reminded me of what a spa resort would be like if run on an NHS budget!

emmlepemmle Fri 23-Sep-11 12:00:14

Hello, I am almost 5 months pregnant and also hoping to give birth at the Whittington Hopsital birthing center. I haven't heard anything so would be really interested to hear other's thoughts on this. This is my first pregnancy and I'm the first of all my friends and family to be having a baby and I'm fairly clueless. Hope you don't mind me tagging along in this discussion!

MissMI5 Fri 23-Sep-11 14:06:50

emmlepemmle - just a couple of quick things I gathered about the birth centre at the Whittington.
First of all, the rooms were lovely, equipped with pool, lots of props to help you cope with pain, birthing stool, own bathroom, resuscitation machine for baby. As far as I understand they are trying to create a cosy place in between your house and a labour ward. You have access to various methods of pain relief except for epidural, however should you need one they would move you up to labour ward (floor 3). You also seem to get more 1:1 attention from midwife. Before you can book yourself in you need to have an assessment to ensure you have a low risk pregnancy. This is as far as I have gathered from the tour/talking to midwife, but I guess I'll have to try it before I can say anymore!!
Lets hope to get more feedback from those who have actually used the service!

moomsy Fri 23-Sep-11 14:51:14

I had 9hrs of contractions in one of the nicest rooms at the Whitehorse Birth Centre in Swindon.

It was amazing. I had two different midwives (the second was a lovely gent).

The pool was amazing, loads of props, entonox which came from the wall and I could use it wherever I was in the pool. We had the lights dimmed and the pool lights on. Double shower, fancy big bathroom and even a chair where other half can relax (if they are so tired to ignore you screaming).

Shame it didn't work out there but it would have been quite something for my daughter to have been born in that pool.

Delivery suite was on the same floor and communication was very good from one place to another. I was transferred backs and forwards with no troubles but it was very late at night / early morning and the place was quiet.

moomsy Fri 23-Sep-11 14:53:11

Forgot to add to original poster:

Keep your options open. Being in the pool and at the birth centre helped me to deal with the worse of my contractions and although she wasn't born there in the end, at least I feel I did my best to try and I was as comfy as possible.

themightyskim Fri 23-Sep-11 14:55:21

wow we dont have anything like that in my area it sounds lovely

dinkystinky Fri 23-Sep-11 14:56:37

Gave birth to DS2 at the St Marys Birth Centre, Paddington - was great - lovely room set up when we got there, one on one midwife attention (but unintrusive), got to use pool and even better DH got to stay the night with DS2 and I (which you dont get on the labour ward).

LDNmummy Fri 23-Sep-11 16:25:23

I picked the Homerton over the Whittington simply because the midwives are tied into my GP's so it made it easier. Also, the Homerton has had a very recent revamp and the new birthing center looks very lovely.

Notcitrus raises the most important question IMO. At the Homerton it is all on one floor and help is only down the corridor should it be needed, which was the last and most important plus for me.

I want to have my DH there all night if possible which you can do in a birthing center but not in a labour ward from what I know. This isn't a guarantee if they have to give your room away but it is actually an option whereas not at all an option in a labour ward. Someone can correct me if I am wrong, it's my first time too so don't quote me on it, but do check into it.

CakeForBreakfast Fri 23-Sep-11 16:50:55

I had dd in a regular hospital labour ward. It was fine, lovely midwives and I needed forceps in the end so it was the right place to be. All in all satisfactory.

I had ds at a MLU which was a last minute change of plan as the hospital delivery suite I was planned to go to was full up. It was WONDERFUL.

slhilly Fri 23-Sep-11 17:02:52

Whit birth centre has a good rep among professionals.

laracroft2001 Fri 23-Sep-11 21:15:15

I'm booked in with the Barkantine birthing centre in London. Be interested to hear experiences of this centre and other birth centres from people.

The centre looks amazing and hopefully i'll feel very 'at home' there!

slhilly Sat 24-Sep-11 15:19:47

The barkantine is lovely and a proud accomplishment of one of the best PCTs in the country, Tower Hamlets.

CrazyAlien06 Sat 24-Sep-11 16:28:33

I'm hoping to get into the MWL unit at Rosie-Addenbrookes,Cambs when baby decided to come (39 wks Tomoz!) had a tour around it and rooms were small but really relaxing, mws were lovely too. Fingers crossed I can get in there as there are only three rooms and it's a popular choice.

NervousAboutTheParty Sat 24-Sep-11 16:39:22

I gave birth at the Whittington Birth Centre the week before last. I can not fault it, they were amazing. This was my second, my first was on labour ward at the whittington and it does not compare. In both instances the midwives were great but the feel of the birth centre is so calm, no doctors coming in and out, not being constantly checked for progress etc, and the facilities in the room are perfect for an active labour. Also, didn't need to go onto the postnatal ward which was nice. Gave birth in the morning and went home after dinner.
It was such a lovely experience, hope yours is too.

Truffkin Sat 24-Sep-11 17:52:59

Just marking my place to read some more first hand reviews as I'm also hoping to give birth in the birth centre at the Whittington and have my assessment meeting next month (am 32 weeks). I did look at the Homerton centre but they look very similar in terms of facilities and 'reviews' and as Whittington is closer, it seemed the best choice. I also looked at North Middlesex and the Royal Free.

MI5 can I ask how you managed to get a tour of the centre? I have asked my midwife (as I know their official line is that they have stopped doing them as they didn't work well) and she was very clear that they don't do it. I'm interested to know how you managed it (even the assessments don't take place in the birth centre itself). I work with someone whose sister is a senior MW at the Whittington and he has offered to get her to take us round as a favour, but I'm a bit loathe to do that really (feels a bit snidey!)

why5am Sat 24-Sep-11 20:10:56

I had a great experience at St Thomas' MLU (they call it the 'home from home' centre). Calm, supportive midwives, really well equipped rooms, privacy and a lovely garden room. For me two things about it were really important: 1) that there wouldn't be intervention if it wasn't needed and that we had a lot of control over how things went and 2) that we were seconds away from serious medical help if needed. (Labour ward and theatre are on the same floor there).

We did get transferred to theatre (although managed to just avoid a c-section in the end - I didn't want one unless baby really needed it).

I'm now 37 weeks with number 2 and wouldn't go anywhere else... Just hoping that this time we get to stay there and deliver in the MLU.

MissMI5 Tue 27-Sep-11 09:08:32

Truffkin - I managed to get a tour of the centre when I went for my antenatal class. My midwife booked me in for the class on a Saturday all day and the midwife that was doing the class took us to the birth centre. She did mention that they don't allow tours anymore as they can really affect the smooth running of the centre, however the centre was incredibly quiet on that day, there was noone around and that's probably why they agreed to let us have a look around.
If I were you I would book myself in for an assessment (compulsory if you want to give birth there) at the birth centre and that's probably how you will get to see it. I don't think they are happy with groups walking around (understandably!) but if you have your assessment I guess it's only fair that you get to see at least one room. I have mine next week so I will let you know what happens at the assessment. Mx

MissMI5 Tue 27-Sep-11 09:14:54

Sorry I forgot to say, there is a photograph of one of the rooms on here http://www.whittington.nhs.uk/default.asp?c=8159, not much I know but i can confirm that that's exactly what the rooms are like! it is a really lovely place and help is at hand on the third floor (labour ward) should anything go wrong.

emmlepemmle Thu 29-Sep-11 14:18:03

thank you so much MissM15 - it sounds lovely and can't wait for my assessment (although I have a little wait for the time being!). Really hope all goes smoothly for you, a friend of mine just had her baby at Homerton birthing center and said it was fantastic - couldn't fault it. Good luck to everyone, xxx

LCRLCR Thu 29-Sep-11 14:24:03

I had my baby (first) at Crowborough Birthing Centre and like most of the other posters above, had a wonderful experience. We had a massive room so lots of space to move around, lots of birthing props and a pool in which DD was born after a mercifully quick labour (just over 4 hours). We had 2 midwives with us all the time, competent, calming and unintrusive and a room to ourselves afterwards, no wards at all. Totally recommend it. The nearest hospital is 9 miles away which would have been uncomfortable in advanced labour but thankfully I didn't need to go anywhere.

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