The Gallery – Birth – Controversial , why?

I never thought that the birth of my children would be controversial – to be honest I never realised that Elliotts had been the source of conversation until I was pregnant with Sam, when everyone suddenly felt as though their opinion on the mater should not only be heard but also be the ONLY opinion I should hold.

If you are wondering why their births were so controversial then here goes……”my name is Alice and I had an independent midwife”!!!! SHOCK HORROR, alert the press we went OUTSIDE of the NHS!

For anyone who is unsure, an independent midwife is effectively a private midwife employed directly by us and who looks after every aspect of our care from pregnancy up to 4 weeks after birth. If you are seeing a hospital consultant or going for scans etc your midwife can come along with you, if you wish. She is always on the end if the phone 24/7 and if you opt for a homebirth, as we did, she will deliver your baby and if you choose to give birth in a hospital she will be right by your side – This is very simplified so for more info check out http://www.independentmidwives.org.uk/

The first thing I should point out is that we are not wealthy, stepping outside the NHS for us wasn’t a case of being “too good” for the NHS and in fact with my first pregnancy I didn’t even know that independent midwives existed until I was 28 weeks pregnant and had reached breaking point!

From my very first appointment with my NHS midwife the simple homebirth I had hoped for seemed a unrealistic dream. I was asked which hospital I would like to give birth in, I replied that I would like to try to have a homebirth and was met with the reply “yes but lets be realistic, which hospital are you going to go to?” Things from this point seemed to spiral from my control, I was passed to consultant led care for being “high risk” and to this day I don’t know really why. I was seen by a consultant, an anesthetist, 3 midwives and when I was diagnosed with SPD a physio and all of these people had differing opinions on my care during the birth but none of them were talking to each other and no-one was actually telling me what was the plan if things continued to go as they were – I was told everything from being high risk of a section and needing to have an epidural as soon as I went into labour like it or not to needing to be induced early – every time I asked a question I was told they would wait and see, which for an anxiety sufferer is NOT something I can cope with.

By the time I was 22 weeks we were looking at private hospitals, which we just couldn’t afford and then at 28 weeks someone told me about independent midwives and I contacted Sally.

From that first conversation with her my stress elevated and we decided that she was the direction we wanted to go in and from the moment we made that decision we knew it had been the right one for US. By the time Elliott was born I felt relaxed, safe and secure and I got my homebirth! 7 hours 40 minutes, gas and air no hospital required!

Sally weighing Elliott

A year later, on Elliotts first birthday, Sally was a part of our family and we were honoured that she agreed to become Elliotts Godmother
So nearly 2 years after Elliotts birth we find we are expecting Sam and the subject of whether we have Sally again comes up. Our natural instinct is to say “yes” but finances are tight and do we seriously consider the NHS option?
Well our decision was still yes because our local hospital is Queens in Romford, whose maternity department was not only was under investigation but while under investigation not only had to accept responsibility for the death of a mother and her baby but also 4 others! The department has good, hard working people working in it but it is over stretched and mistakes were being made. To cut a long story short during the course of my pregnancy we met 3 local NHS midwives, 2 of whom worked at Queens, and a lady who worked in the maternity department of the hospital, in another capacity, and upon hearing that we had an independent midwife they all said versions of the same thing “that’s the best decision you could have made!” – in fact the lady who worked in the department was originally from outside of the UK and also pregnant and she was planning on returning to her native country to give birth rather than risk the hospital she worked in.
We felt that again we were taking the best option for us and our family but then the controversy kicked in! Up until I gave birth to Sam I was accused of, hating the NHS and thinking I was too good for the NHS, I was accused of thinking I was better than others so wanted private care, I was also told that having an independent was plainly wrong regardless of my reasons and I should have NHS care. It was almost as though I came up against reverse snobbery!
I am a huge advocate of women’s right to choose how they wish to give birth and I went on a birth rally in London that aimed to improve NHS maternity care for women and their babies. I don’t hate the NHS or think having a baby on the NHS is beneath me or my family but no-one can deny that the NHS is struggling and if my not being in it helps and I feel more secure by doing it then I honestly feel as though its a win win situation right now for all involved.
In the end I had another wonderful homebirth with Sam if nit slightly odd because by this time Sally was a really great friend and my other friend also was present so it was as though my friends had come over for a cup of tea and while they were there I had a baby!



Oh and just a note Sally has been such an amazing Godmother to Elliott we have asked her to be Godmother to Sam also!

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