E and I decided on using the University College of London Hospital(UCLH) maternity services because we heard of good reviews from our fellow Singaporean friends. One of our friends even warned us against the maternity services provided in our borough and thus our reluctance to use the hospital in our area. A quick search on the internet/netmums also shows that UCLH(and St Thomas) is one of the recommended state maternity hospitals among pregnant mothers.
Since UCLH is located in town, it took us about 45 minutes to get there by public transport. Driving to the hospital will take a longer time because of the traffic conditions. Parking near UCLH can be quite inconvenient as well. The one time we drove to UCLH(because of the children), we parked at Regents Park and took a 15 minutes walk to the hospital. Despite that, we are not the only ones who are not deterred by the distance. In fact, a number of mothers chose to make their way to UCLH for the highly rated services.
One can get self-referred to UCLH even if you do not live in the borough. It is a simple process of filling up the word document and emailing to the correct department. It took them about 3 days before they got back to us with a phone call and an appointment date with the midwife.
Our first impression of UCLH was good. The Elizabeth Garret Anderson Hospital, which is the maternity wing of UCH looks new, modern and clean. The midwife appointments were always on time and yes, I would advise anyone using NHS services to be punctual for any appointments. On one occasion, I saw that a lady who was about 20 minutes late for her midwife appointment being asked to wait indefinitely or reschedule her appointment. So, you don’t want to be late for your appointment.
My appointments with the midwives are always pleasant. The staff are friendly and ready to answer any queries about pregnancy. The purpose of the midwife appointment is to ask them any of our pregnancy questions, get our blood pressure measured as well as to monitor the baby’s heartbeat with the doppler. I have a back problem which needed treatment and the midwife was quick to get me an appointment with the physiotherapist at the hospital. I went for once but was unable to continue with the follow-ups because of timing and childcare issues. In this case, I would have thought that if I went for the hospital in my borough, it would possibly be easier for such extra services(physiotherapy sessions) required. I saw different midwives throughout my 40 weeks of pregnancy but I think you can actually request for a fixed midwife for the entire process. I would think the midwives are high trained and qualified because I always felt assured with their knowledge.
As for my ultra scans, for the 4 times that I went, I had 2 good experiences and 2 not so good ones. In UCLH, pregnant mothers are allowed to have 3 scans at different stages of their pregnancies. When I went for first one, I was not 12 weeks yet. Hence, I needed to go for repeat first scan. For the second scan, different technicians were assigned to us. It was then we had a pregnancy scare because they gave us the wrong results. 😦 To their credit, they did call us in the evening on the same day to rectify the mistake. Coincidentally, we had the same two technicians for our third scan. Obviously, I felt insecure in their hands. For a 45 minutes detailed scan, it stretched out to be a 2ish hour one because many of the key items could not be detected. My last scan was good because the technicians were really kind and nice. I was late due to unforeseen circumstances(Gillian was hospitalised that very morning. But that is a story for another day) but technicians(not the same ones as my 2nd and 3rd’s) waited for me even though they need not have to.
There was once where I was experiencing early contractions and I called their 24 hour midwife number. They got me to head down to their Maternal Fetal Assessment ward for a checkup. They had a gynecologist and a midwife around to ensure that everything was cleared before allowing me to head home. So, I would think the staff at UCLH are very responsible and dedicated towards their patients, very much unlike those scary stories that I read on the news about hospitals and their staff.
Surprisingly, I had a good experience on the day of Megan’s birth. The midwife who was in charge of Megan’s delivery, Laura was very capable and calm during the entire process. I have the tendency of reading up too much over the internet and when I read about some ladies’ birthing experience with impatient midwives around, it can be quite traumatizing. Thankfully, Laura was nothing like that. When I felt like giving up(and was repeatedly sprouting nonsense), she was encouraging and firm from the start to the end.
This is my first meal after birth. It doesn’t looks appetising and probably isn’t. However, to someone who has just given birth, anything can be really delicious. That, to me at the point in time was sumptuous and I finished everything! Everything!
I stayed in a 4 bedder ward and this is how one the the beds look like. Just adequate with a fairly uncomfortable chair for the Dad to use. In other hospitals, you can book an amenity room, which is like a private room for £90-£200 per night. I found that an amenity room in my borough is £90 per night which is pretty affordable. Towards the end of my pregnancy(like in my 39th week), I was very inclined to switch hospital because of Gillian’s condition and the proximity issues. I was very tempted by the possibility of having an amenity room as well. In the end, we decided to stick with UCLH. Amenity rooms in UCLH cost £850 per night! That is considerably a huge difference, so we opted to stay at the 4 bedder ward for the night.
This are some examples of the meals I had in the ward for the 2day/1night that I stayed in the hospital for. Very different from my Mount Alvernia, Singapore experience. Nevertheless, the comparison is unfair since we paid for the maternity services in Singapore while what I had in London is free under the NHS. E did make up for better meal options for me during my stay in UCLH. He bought me Macs dinner as well as Roti Prata with fish curry from Roti King Hmm… I don’t think my mother will be very happy with this revelation…. 😛
(This is Baby Megan, with Ryan’s old blanket from Gleneagles and his first toy rabbit. Age: 1 day)
The pediatricians did come about to their routine checks on Baby Megan during our stay in the hospital. After our discharge from the hospital, we were assigned to a birth center in our borough for the routine 4 day and 10 day checks.
We will be heading back to the hospital in a few weeks to do more detailed assessments. Till then, we are out!