"Variable support for Homebirth at St Peter's, Chertsey"

About: Ashford and St Peter's Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

(as the patient),

I do not think the standards set in Maternity Matters have been achieved to the extent that the recent press release claims. I am pregnant and as part of planning this pregnancy, we saved to pay for an independent midwife before we began trying to conceive so that this pregnancy was without the ongoing unhelpfulness and stress of the last one.

My experience in 2007 via St Peter's was that the option of homebirth was continually dismissed by my community midwives (e.g. they said to me we don't need to discuss that until you are at least 36 weeks pregnant), but when I pushed the situation in a midwife antenatal appointment at 30 weeks, I feel like I was then lied to about the availability of homebirth by my midwife & also told that the 'quota' for my due date was already full.

Once I had taken advice from my local North Surrey Home Birth Support Group & the organisation AIMS, I wrote to the supervisor of midwives to clarify the situation (as I felt the situation as described by my community midwife was utterly without basis in fact) & to remove myself from this midwife's care. The result was a successful homebirth in 2007 although I had not met any of the midwives who were on the team nor on call that night and was so stressed by my experience with the midwife who had provided the majority of my antenatal care, that I engaged a doula so that at least my partner & I knew one person who might appear on our doorstep.

I believe one to one care & the building of a strong, respectful, trusting relationship between the midwife(s) & the women is critical to good outcomes in labour, birth & the establishment of the new family. Sadly, it appeared in my case to become less & less available as maternity units focussed on (I think self-assessed, without real consultation) key services & large-scale maternity units as the birth rate rises & public funding reduces. The excellent support for homebirth provided by the Powys midwifery model in extremely rural surroundings I think shows that it is entirely feasible and I feel like it is merely a matter of approach.

In my experience, choice may be available on paper or website but the reality of the situation for women is that real choice is only available depending on midwives' individual opinions & homebirth options in particular I believe are the first things to be pulled when staffing difficulties arise.

My local Maternity Services Liaison Committee is being disbanded & regrouped at PCT level, leaving a ‘tick box’ users group at local level, which appears to me to be utterly toothless in challenging the management of the midwifery & obstetrics departments & their approach to supporting women, babies & their families.

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››