"Great water birth facilities at University Hospital Lewisham"

About: University Hospital Lewisham / Maternity care

(as the patient),

I had my second son at University Hospital Lewisham in March 2007 and had a fantastic water birth. It was a very positive experience and made the whole thing much more manageable for me.

The midwives (thankfully one community midwife - because it was the only one they could find who would assist a water birth, and a great student) were fantastic and helped me every step of the way without being in any way intrusive. The facilities were great too.

My problem is that all throughout my pregnancy, in discussions with the midwives, in discussions at hospital appointments, at visits to see the maternity ward I expressed my desire for a water birth and was given the impression that it may be possible but that it might not be available. Fair enough. I thought it was so well used that if someone else was using it I wouldn't be able to. I was happy with taking my chances on the day. (I was concerned to find out the situation in advance as I had been denied a water birth at St Thomas' for my first son when a rule about no water births if BMI over 30 appeared at 2am when I arrived at the hospital in established labour that time, and I ended up with a drug free but assisted delivery).

However, when I got to hospital, well into established labour (I had given up calling to talk to them as their stock answer was wait longer at home) it became clear that the reason I may not be able to have a water birth was because their may not be a midwife on duty who was trained or confident in using it. I was not happy. It transpired it had only been use twice in the last month! What a waste of resources!!

In the end my not normally demanding husband (I was not really in a fit state to argue by that point) implored with the staff to see if they could find someone and luckily for me a fantastic duty community midwife was able to come in to the hospital and support me.

My 9lb 14oz baby was born with no complications and all was fine.

In the end I am sure that my water birth cost the NHS a lot less money (no epidural - which I was close to needing!, no doctor time, short stay in hospital etc etc)

I did not want a home birth but insisting on this may have been my only chance for the birth I wanted?

It concerns me that:

- this birthing pool resource is seriously under used at Lewisham

- that midwives trained in water birth are not confident enough to use their skills (my interpretation on the situation)

- that it was almost impossible to find out what the issues were in advance despite talking to lots of people about it

- that this is costing the NHS more money and putting people off Lewisham Hospital

Now they are taking about removing maternity services from Lewisham Hospital which I also think would be a real loss.

I could also make a few suggestions about the quality and helpfulness of the postnatal care at Lewisham (the word supportive and helpful wouldn't be ones I would use). But I will save that for another day....

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