Kensington Midwives have offered a private midwifery service locally since 2009 and we now work under the umbrella of Private Midwives, a company based in Cheshire, which used to be called UK Birth Centres. It has recently rebranded and expanded to welcome many independent midwives. They arrange the insurance and all financial matters with our clients, supervise clinical care and provide yearly mandatory training.
I will answer a few recent questions sent to me by Alice Whitehead, a freelance journalist writing a feature for Absolutely Mama magazine about the best private healthcare available to mums-to-be in London.
Why would someone want to use you? What benefits are there in using a private midwife?
Couples would want to use a private midwife in order to have continuity of care throughout their pregnancy, birth of their baby and postnatally. There is evidence that there are physical and psychological benefits from seeing the same person throughout, building a trusting relationship, which helps to build confidence, reducing anxiety and fear. Anxiety leads to the release of adrenaline in labour which is counter productive to the release of natural labour hormones, especially oxytocin, the hormone which is released to help contractions. This hormone is vital to the birth process and is also known as the “love hormone” so helps mother and baby fall in love forever.
Any ‘little extras’ that are unique to you and your company?
We see couples in my home in Kensington, having tea or after work, in a relaxed and comfortable environment, plenty of time to talk, listen and give information. Our antenatal visits last for about an hour and as well as our clinical checks we discuss a specific topic, so by the time baby arrives our new mothers are very well informed. We suggest our mums also join an antenatal class such as The Bump Class or Lulubaby, depending on where they live.
During labour little extras include massage, applying pressure to the lower back, cool water to drink, a cool flannel, tea for Dad, support during each contraction, usually counting down from 10 and blowing at a pretend candle. We very much believe in hypnobirthing. We support all methods of coping, frequently aim for a waterbirth or using the pool for pain relief. Often our mums manage without pain relief or use some gas and air. If our mums would like an epidural we would totally support them in their choice and go to the labour ward with them, where they would be given an epidural.
How many more women are now using private midwives compared with five years ago? Why has it become more popular recently?
Many more are using a private midwife or doula. There are fears that the maternity wards are very busy. Doulas are now common knowledge and they are fantastic at birth support and postnatal help. Suzanne Smythe is our doula and she also works with new parents, staying over night once their baby is at home and mum needs some deep sleep. She will bring baby in to be fed during the night and sleep with baby, so takes care of all nappy changes, winding and settling allowing mum to sleep soundly in between feeds.
How much does it cost on average to hire you?
It costs £5,000 for total care during pregnancy, birth and postnatally up to 6 weeks. Birth support only is £2,000. There are prices in between depending on the amount of postnatal visits or when antenatal care begins. Look at the Private Midwives website for all prices, privatemidwives.com
Can mums integrate with NHS services, have a private midwife but still give birth in a local hospital?
All Kensington Midwives services are designed to be integrated with NHS services. We will give birth support in your local hospital, usually Chelsea and Westminster or St Mary’s Paddington. Our clients book with the hospital of their choice, have their blood tests and scans at the hospital, and their labour and birth of their baby is often in the Birth Centres of these two hospitals, which are amazing.
If our clients are using The Kensington Wing at Chelsea, the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s or The Portland Hospital, we offer exactly the same services. Once labour has begun we are contacted throughout early labour and we arrange when to meet at the hospital. We are then with our couples until their baby is born.
What kind of postnatal aftercare do you offer, if any?
Our postnatal aftercare is a visit every day during the first week except for the day the community NHS midwife visits.
We check mother and baby, help with breastfeeding, weigh baby, help to bath and generally answer lots of questions. During the second and third week we visit less often, but we are always available. We visit 10-12 times before the baby is 6 weeks old.
We feel our private services compliment the NHS and give a sense of security and confidence to our new families. We can be telephoned at any time, and can arrange to visit immediately if there is a problem or slight worry. We would like to encourage you to look at the Private Midwives website and then contact us directly on 0207 937 3835.