My name is Kate, I’m a freelance theatre director living near Upton Park with my partner of 16 years and my 6 year old daughter.
It took me a long time to want to have another baby as I found the first time round extremely challenging on all levels. - I had a very protracted labour with many interventions, then feeding problems and a very demanding baby!! I suffered with poor mental health after she was born for quite a long time and the thought of having another child felt too overwhelming. Although on paper my birth probably wasn’t all that dramatic, for me, it was very traumatic and I held onto a lot of that trauma for a long time. So when I got pregnant for the second time, I definitely had a complex emotional response - I was of course overjoyed to be having another child, but I was also absolutely terrified about giving birth again.
I was apprehensive about having my baby at Newham, as the things I’d read online weren’t very positive, but I’d spoken to a few people who had had good experiences there, which went some way to reassuring me. And now I’m on the other side, I’m happy to say I had an entirely positive experience giving birth at Newham Hospital.
When I went for my 12 week scan, I noticed a sign in the waiting area for a group midwife practice which meant women could get continuity of care throughout pregnancy and birth, which really appealed to me. I went for a ‘meet the team’ afternoon before the pandemic hit and felt reassured through meeting a group of midwives who seemed professional, supportive and friendly. I was fortunately in the post code area that the group covered, so was assigned a midwife who would see me at home for my appointments. She ended up seeing me not only for all my appointments but through labour and delivery too and this continuity of care was a significant factor in reducing my fear and anxiety around labour/birth.
In the early stages of pregnancy, I was highly anxious and pretty adamant that I wanted a C-section to avoid going through labour again! Jade, my midwife, managed my anxiety absolutely brilliantly, she listened and took my fears seriously and recommended I go and speak with Cathy, the consultant midwife at Newham about birth choices. I went in at the beginning of lockdown, when I know staff must have been incredibly stressed and anxious themselves, but Cathy was wonderful. She gave me time and space to talk about my previous experience and offered some helpful advice and reassurance. She referred me for some birth trauma therapy and I had a couple of sessions with a wonderful lady called Elaine towards the end of my pregnancy, which were quite transformative and combined with Jade’s care, gave me the confidence to aim for a natural birth.
Throughout the birth itself, I couldn’t have asked for better care. Jade was there on the phone in the early stages, I was assessed at home and she even followed us in her car to the hospital and took us up to the birth centre! I was very determined to have an epidural, but my body had other ideas and Jade was brilliant at knowing what to say and what I needed at every point. It took me a while to realise I was going to have to give birth without an epidural and I definitely wasn’t very happy about it, but I trusted Jade to get me through it and with her incredible patience, expertise and encouragement, I gave birth in the water, which I have to say, felt like a small miracle for me, considering I had started my pregnancy wanting a c section.
All the staff I encountered during pregnancy/labour/post birth were fantastic. Kind, attentive, positive and respectful. I think I had quite low expectations because of all the horror stories you hear about pre/post natal care in general, but even so, I felt really looked after and safe in Newham’s care. Post natally, when Jade wasn’t able to attend an appointment, other members of the group practice team came and were equally brilliant in their care and attention. I felt so supported throughout.
In terms of giving birth during the pandemic, the staff did as much as they could to keep everything as normal as possible, considering circumstances were anything but normal!! They mostly wore masks, but I never felt like the pandemic would affect the care I would receive and any questions I had were answered honestly and directly.
I think women wanting to have their babies at Newham should not base their opinions on what they read online and make an effort to go and look around the maternity unit, speak to midwives, to not be afraid to ask questions and to make your needs heard so that the right support can be found for you. I had little contact with other midwives not in the group practice team (but those I did see were all really lovely) and I would 100% recommend the group midwife practice. Having continuity of care with someone I trusted and respected played such a huge part in my having a positive experience and I’m extremely grateful for this.
Find out more about the maternity team at Newham Hospital.