As soon as we found out about my pregnancy, the question was raised of where to experience my pregnancy journey and where to actually give birth. I already knew I wanted to go down the route of private healthcare and this gave us four possible hospitals.. though I had ultrasounds at the world-renowned Portland Hospital we ruled it straight away as it’s not attached to an NHS hospital and the possible facilities required. For us it was preferable to opt for a private wing at an NHS hospital which left the Westminster Suite at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital, the Kensington Wing at Chelsea and Westminster or the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s. You may recognise the name of the latter as the hospital where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had all three of their children, and Princess Diana before them as well as George and Amal Clooney. Now in all honesty, this is what drew me towards the Lindo Wing, if it was the hospital of choice for the Royal family, I knew the levels of care would be exceptional.
You don’t need a GP to refer you for private maternity care, instead you can self refer via the website. Mr S and I went on a hospital tour to see the rooms before we referred ourselves… naively, I expected slightly fancier rooms but they are still rather ‘hospital chic’ but still much nicer than you might expect. I’ll go into detail about the room later in this post. You refer yourself to the hospital by choosing a consultant from the list on the website and contacting their assistant for an appointment. In all honesty, you can’t go wrong as all the doctor’s are highly qualified and many of them work out of all the different London hospitals anyway. I chose our doctor based on the fact I wanted a woman and after I googled her I found positive experiences of her on Mumsnet and the like. After our first meeting with her, I was happy to proceed as she was warm and reassuring which is exactly what I was looking for in a doctor.
At the Lindo Wing you will always have consultant-led care whether you’re high or low risk. Appointments under the private sector are frequent and the Dr gave me an ultra sound at every appointment so we got a peek at baby S every time we visited plus got to hear his heart beat at every appointment. Up until 28 weeks we had appointments every four weeks and at 28 weeks we were supposed to have an appointment every two weeks but at week 34 when our complications were discovered, we were coming in twice a week to see the consultant and nearly every day for CTG monitoring. We were also advised to continue having scans at the Portland and Harley Street outside of our appointments with the consultant as a second pair of eyes could notice something she didn’t.
Now you’re probably wondering what does it all cost. Well, you pay the doctor a set fee, ours had a package, which I imagine is the case with most, and then there’s a separate fee for the hospital. If you need to stay additional nights, you will be paying by the night. All the scans with the doctor are included but we had to pay for additional scans and blood tests plus when our complications were discovered we had to pay each time we went in for monitoring plus the steroid injections to help his lungs. You will need to pay more for a c-section whether it is a necessity or not and as the operation requires more nights in hospital, these will need to be paid for too. What I’m saying is don’t take the costs at face value, they can still add up to a lot more and going private is very pricey but in my opinion it is worth it. If we hadn’t chosen private healthcare we wouldn’t have had the scan at 34 weeks where the complications with the placenta were discovered. As I mentioned we had to go into the hospital nearly every day for monitoring and we were always greeted by the friendly faces of the midwife team, our own private room with the CTG machine and any drinks and snacks we needed.
Birth and Delivery
Due to my placenta problems our doctor wanted to deliver the baby early. This meant I had the choice of a c-section or induction. My C-Section was booked for 3.30 in the afternoon and Mr S and I arrived early so everything could be prepared for us. We settled into a room in advance of the operation where we made our selves comfortable and later got into hospital gown and scrubs… there was no waiting in line or delays. We had our time slot and that was that.
The delivery was as smooth as can be and though I was super nervous, I knew baby S and I were in the best possible hands. If you’re interested in knowing more about my birth story, I’ve blogged a full account of the day and the aftercare that we received at the Lindo Wing. After the birth was were moved back into the same the room. At this point I was so thirsty (having been nil by mouth since 9am) I couldn’t wait for water which was bought to me shortly after my shakes had settled down. I also really needed some food but we were told the kitchen was closed and all we could have with sandwiches. Our fantastic midwife managed to score me some lentil soup and vegetable lasagne… which I pronounced the best lentil soup I’d ever had (it wasn’t but at the time it definitely felt like it!). After eating we were moved into the room that we would be staying in for the next four days.
In regards to the room itself, it was still a hospital room but nicer than your average. Personally I’d never stayed in hospital before so I don’t have much to compare it to but just having a private room in to recover in at all is amazing! There’s the option of suites or deluxe accommodation with suite being much pricier than the deluxe room that we chose. Each room has satellite TV (which we used to catch up on Love Island every night!) and there’s a phone and fridge (which we stocked with our own snacks) and free WIFI – basically the hospital version of a hotel. Each room has an ensuite bathroom (ours just had a shower but some have a bath) and if you’re interested in bathroom amenities you’ll be pleased to see it stocked with Elemis products. Of course, my bed was a standard hospital bed and it was perfectly comfortable but the real bonus was a comfortable chair that could be reclined into a flat-bed so Mr S could stay every night. Or of course you can do what George and Amal did and opt for two rooms…
In terms of food, there’s a catering company preparing food on site. We ordered breakfast, lunch and dinner from the menu everyday. Breakfast was a selection of nutritious options such as porridge, eggs, toast etc and coffee… I made sure to really make the most of the coffee as I’d limited caffeine during my pregnancy. For lunch and dinner the menu offered daily changing soups but was the same every day with lighter options or more substantial hot meals. After the c-section I was craving light but comforting food so my lunches were usually cheesy jacket potatoes, salmon sandwiches or salads and for dinner we had lasagne, light curries and vegetarian dishes. Meals are only served at particular times which can be mildly inconvenient when feeding baby etc but we ordered everything in advance to plan ahead. On one day we experienced the famous Lindo Wing afternoon tea, served on a silver platter. I heard rumours of a full wine list and champagne though I never saw this or asked for it so I don’t actually know. The hospital caters for all religious and dietary requirements and while my meals were all included in the package, we had to pay extra for Mr S’s. Tea and coffee were bought in at any time that we needed it as guests are welcome any time of day. There’s no visiting hours and guests can come when it’s convenient for you.
It felt so reassuring to be surrounded by midwives for four days and to equipped with the ‘call the midwife’ button. The midwives taught us how to bathe, swaddle and change Baby S and most importantly introduce me to breast-feeding. You’re never good at something the first time that you try it so breast-feeding was a little challenging at the beginning … all the midwives were so kind and helpful, some a little sterner than others but all with the same end goal of helping me nourish little one. We also had a check over from the Paediatrician and BCG injection, little Baby S was checked for jaundice and had his hearing checked and I was constantly monitored and had a visit from my consultant. All in all we felt thoroughly looked after. On the less medical side of things, I already mentioned the newborn photoshoot that we had in the hospital – I looked pretty grotty but these remain some of my favourite photos ever. I also heard about a concierge at the hospital who can arrange spa treatments… blow dries etc… we’ve all heard about Kate Middleton getting her hair done in the hospital before greeting the public and personally I don’t blame her.
You can pretty much leave the hospital whenever you like and though we were ok to leave after three days, we opted to stay another making a total of four. Honestly, we felt so looked well after and in this happy new born bubble, just the three of us in this little room together, I was actually sad to leave!
The NHS send a community midwife to take of you after birth or you can opt for the Lindo Wing midwife to come to visit. This is a further paid for service but they provide three post natal check ups, the first being within 48 hours of leaving hospital. Our lovely midwife came again a few days later in order to check that breastfeeding was going well, baby’s weight and health and to answer any other questions. She came a third time days later to check again. We got lots of time with her to ask questions, which was worth it’s weight in gold for any concerns. And Mr S and I worry about every little thing… all of which we were told was normal.
So would I choose the Lindo Wing for Baby S Mark II? Absolutely! Despite the prohibitive cost, the personal care that we had was incredible and we couldn’t have been happier. It’s not all about afternoon tea, blow dries and photo shoots of course, those are fantastic extras but the frequent appointments with our doctor meant our complications were caught early and Baby S was born healthy and is now thriving!
What do you think? I’d love to know about your hospital experiences too.