>Choosing where to give birth

>Following on from Mellow Mummys post about the government initiative Maternity Matters and her invite to everyone to share their story, here’s mine:

My experience of the way in which the maternity service in my area operates is over 8 years old now, so is probably completely out of date, however when I fell pregnant I was asked at my “booking in” appointment with the midwife at my local GP’s surgery where I wanted to have my baby. I was given two choices – at Queen Mary’s in Sidcup or Darenth Valley in Dartford(also nicknamed Death Valley!). I was not offered a home birth, neither was I offered the choice to have my baby in a midwife led unit (Darenth Valley now has one but had only recently been built when I was pregnant) and I just assumed that people only had babies in hospitals, I was only 19 after all and E was a “surprise” baby (don’t like the word accident when referring to my little angel!) and I hadn’t exactly previously looked into my birth choices, it was the last thing on my mind back then prior to getting pregnant.

I chose Queen Mary’s in Sidcup, which is about 4 miles from where I live, whereas Darenth Valley is closer, but I was born in Queen Mary’s, as was my sister and the hospital had a relatively good reputation. (at that time!) Well, any hospital would have a good reputation compared to one nicknamed Death Valley and also regularly featured on the news for it’s complete lack of cleanliness!

I visited the hospital for blood tests, scans and the “official tour” and it just seemed like any other hospital to me, nothing particularly stood out. My midwife appointments all took place at my GP’s, which considering it was a three minute walk from my house was great, especially when I got to the waddling stage! I also went to Darenth Valley for my ante natal classes which for numerous reasons I wish I hadn’t bothered actually going to – I was the only single mum, the only young mum and was made to feel really uncomfortable around all the couples that were there, the midwife that led the session didn’t help either, nor did her out right insistence that breast was best and her refusal to even discuss bottle feeding when a couple asked her to do so. It’s definitely put me off any future ante natal classes.

You can find out about my actual labour etc here if you fancy a peek.

In future if I do have another child I would consider a home birth or a midwife led unit as well as a hospital birth. But the choices here are pretty slim, you either have your baby in Darenth Valley (either the midwife led unit or the maternity unit) or you pay for a private hospital, doesn’t sound like much of a choice to me! The thing I hate about that hospital too is that you have to park your car, walk into the main area of the hospital and walk all the way to the other end of the building (where you’ve probably just parked outside after not being able to find a parking space!), get into a lift and then you arrive at the maternity unit or the midwife led unit – why hasn’t it got it’s own entrance like the one where I had E? (which has now been closed down or is about to close down) The thought of being in labour and having to drag myself through corridors etc puts me off the place before I even think about the actual facilities. The midwife has now moved from the GP surgery to the SureStart centre, which is practically behind my flat so that would be convenient but other than that I can’t really see a lot going for the services around here – choice – what choice??? Saying that maybe in future I’ll be considering a birth in Gibraltar or Spain and who knows what kind of choices I will get there!?!

(Pic by the way is of E when she was 2 days old leaving the hospital with one of the midwives – not the one who delivered her, they just insisted on bringing them out and putting them in the car seats back then. She’s so tiny even her newborn snowsuit is far too big for her!)

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