Victoria Lambert explains the nature of private maternity and describes what a mum-to-be can expect
From day one to the day of delivery, one of the great advantages of private maternity care is that you will get to know your medical team before your baby and you depend on them.
The consultant you trust with antenatal scans, blood tests and general care is also the doctor who will deliver your baby, either by caesarean or naturally, as the two of you decide.
This is in contrast to the NHS, where you may see your preferred obstetrician, if you are having a planned elective caesarean or your spontaneous labour coincides with his or her shift, but you are more likely to see one of a team of consultants, essentially whoever is on duty.
And you can be reassured, most private obstetricians will have trained in the NHS, and many will combine private and NHS work, so you can be sure of the highest standard of care. They will also belong to their professional body, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Your doctor will work with a trusted, experienced anaesthetist to provide the exact pain relief you require – no pleading for an epidural – your anaesthetist will have discussed all your options in advance and helped you draw up a birth plan.
Like obstetricians, the advantage of having a private midwife is that you can be confident she too will be there when you need her.
Zita West, midwife and fertility consultant at the Zita West Clinic, says: “Giving birth can be a nerve-racking time for women, even if they are experienced mothers. Having a familiar, trusted face present is a huge advantage, as you will have discussed your birth plan already, and also any particular fears.”
She adds: “Midwives who work within a private midwifery unit follow NICE [National Institute for Health and Care Excellence] guidelines and are supervised the same as NHS midwives.”
Some women may also want a doula, a non-medically trained but highly experienced birth assistant, who is there for everything from hand-holding to general support, including helping you to establish breastfeeding. Doula.org.uk, a non-profit organisation, has a list of regulated doulas in the UK; average cost is about £500.
Lastly, many expectant mothers also enjoy complementary therapies by experienced practitioners who may be recommended by their obstetrician, from hypnotherapists, who may help with pain-control techniques, to reflexologists, who may be able to encourage the start of labour naturally.