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Midwife And Obstetrician Led Care Combined – Would It Work For You?

For mothers-to-be looking for private pregnancy care, it’s the age-old pregnancy debate: midwife or obstetrician led care? But what if you could have both? Private Pregnancy UK sits down with pioneering maternity care experts The Birth Team to find out more about this unique approach.

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If you’ve been researching different private pregnancy care options, you may be aware of the arguments that can surround midwife versus obstetrician led care. Some view midwife led care as a more ‘natural’ approach and worry about undergoing medical interventions if they opt for an obstetrician. Tabloid headlines point the finger at higher intervention rates for obstetrician led care, but often don’t qualify this fact by explaining that obstetricians have to take on more complicated cases that will potentially lead to interventions anyway since they are the only ones trained and qualified to do so. The point about having a dedicated obstetrician throughout the whole process is that no matter what happens – and there can often be unforeseen issues – you will be in safe hands with someone who knows you. But what about the woman-to-woman, timeless know how of a fantastic midwife – do you really want to miss out on that?

Do You Really Want To Miss Out On That?
Richard Sheridan, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist - The Birth TeamIt was with this dilemma in mind that esteemed consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Mr Richard Sheridan, who has over 25 years of experience, teamed up with dedicated midwife Sarah Denning, to deliver The Birth Team. He explains: ‘By way of their training, of course, obstetricians will manage medical interventions and high risk pregnancy, whilst midwives focus on normality. Placing the mother at the centre of care with her midwife and obstetrician as equal partners in the process means that the mother is absolutely free to choose the kind of birth experience she truly wants. She has the best of both worlds.

Specialising in high-quality private maternity care for North London, West London, Central London and Hertfordshire, The Birth Team runs antenatal clinics in both the immaculate Sainsbury Wing at the Hammersmith hospital in Shepherd’s Bush and the Spire private hospital in Bushey, Hertfordshire. All babies are delivered at the world-renowned Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Maternity Hospital. This dual midwife and obstetrician led approach is completely new and unique in the maternity care sector, so we were keen to quiz Mr Sheridan and Sarah further, to find out what the key benefits of utilising this approach are.

Consistency In Care No Matter What
Mr Sheridan says: ‘Midwife led care can be amazing of course, but it can be a worry for mums because the reality is, you just don’t know what’s going to happen. You can appear to have absolutely no problems in pregnancy, all pretty straightforward, and then you can develop complications in pregnancy or labour, at which point you need to transfer to an obstetrician you’ve never met before, who doesn’t know you, and with whom you have no bond. This can make women feel unsafe.

One of the most important things women need is consistency and continuity of carers,’ Sarah adds. ‘Without consistency – and unfortunately, this is something the vast majority of women don’t get to experience – women find it hard to develop trust in their healthcare professionals and worry that their issues could slip through the net whilst being passed around to different people.

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While a number of obstetricians these days are no longer gynaecologists as well, Mr Sheridan is both. This means that if there are any gynaecological problems or complications before or after pregnancy, women don’t need to be referred out – everything they need is already available to them. Mr Sheridan is also very experienced in high-risk cases, specialising in problems like gestational diabetes.

No More ‘White Coat’ Syndrome
Sarah Denning, Registered Midwife - The Birth TeamThe problem is,’ Sarah reveals, ‘without even realising it, mothers to be can often feel a little intimidated in front of an obstetrician; they don’t want to ask too many questions, get anxious and forget them, or don’t fully understand the answers. Whenever possible, Richard and I see women together for their appointments, so that when Richard is talking to a pregnant woman and perhaps her partner, I’m observing how she is absorbing the information, making sure she feels completely comfortable and has all her questions answered. Sometimes a mother needs encouragement and reassurance to say whatever is on her mind or finds it easier to talk to me than to Richard. We find that combined support works extremely well. It’s about bringing the best of both worlds together. The gentler, more female-centred care of the midwife, together with the unparalleled medical knowledge of the obstetrician.

A Comprehensive Approach
Mr Sheridan comments: ‘What we do is provide a holistic approach to care. Of course, that’s a word that gets used a lot these days, but what does it actually mean? At The Birth Team, we provide a complete, comprehensive package for a mother if she wants it – from pre-pregnancy counselling, pregnancy care, antenatal classes, labour and delivery care through to postnatal midwifery care at home, and she can opt for as much or as little as she chooses. The Birth Team full package prices are the same regardless of whether you have a natural birth or a caesarean and you will have as many appointments as are necessary within that package cost. Women should be properly looked after without worrying about hidden costs.’ Patients who choose the antenatal care option or full care option also have 24/7 telephone access to Sarah or her midwife colleague for support for urgent pregnancy issues.

Ms Denning adds: ‘There are so many unforeseen issues in pregnancy and new motherhood that can make the childbirth experience miserable and uncomfortable if not managed properly; musculoskeletal problems for example. Many women suffer with them in pregnancy and they can be incredibly problematic. We work with a fantastic osteopath. We also have a brilliant reflexologist and a birth counsellor. We’ve handpicked the best, through years of experience. We like to think that we can offer a comprehensive service for childbearing women.

The Birth Team also runs a first class antenatal course, delivered by Sarah and her team, called: The Knowledge Antenatal, offering parents to be all they need to know to have a great birth experience and to manage those first few weeks with a newborn baby. Newborn resuscitation training and newborn care is part of the course. They also offer a specially tailored Postnatal Homecare Service, where your own dedicated midwife will visit you at home as often as you require, guiding and supporting you while you get the hang of being a mum.

For Sarah and her team, one of the most important aspects of good care is making sure pregnant women are well informed, well-supported and listened to. She says: ‘Women need accurate information from trusted professionals to be able to make informed choices about their care, their baby’s birth and to feel safe and confident. There is so much hysteria in the media which causes pregnant women unnecessary stress; some televised programmes about birth have obviously been edited in ways that make birth seem out of control and very frightening, which it doesn’t need to be with the right support. Social media also has a lot to answer for; pregnancy and becoming a mother is hard enough in today’s world without the general public vilifying her choices, or dictating how a woman should behave and what she should be achieving. There’s a lot of misinformation about pregnancy and motherhood; it should be about her, and her choices, with a strong, available, consistent support network. That’s what we’re here to provide.

What Do Patients Think?
We spoke to Honor Soloman, a 37-year-old mum of three who has had two births with The Birth Team after a badly handled complication in her first labour. She explains: ‘I wouldn’t go anywhere else for pregnancy care now. The consistency was just fantastic. Sarah is very maternal, so caring. She makes herself very available. There were times I had questions and she would get back to me within 30 minutes. Richard is fantastic, so easy to be with – I’ve known him for eight years now. And he has such high ethical standards; you really know he cares about you as a patient. He will be honest with you, he will tell you the facts but in a way that enables you to be calm about them. I think they both complement each other really well – they are different and it really, really works. They make the birth the least stressful it could possibly be – really quite a calm, enjoyable experience.

Plus the Stanley Clayton Ward at Queen Charlotte’s really is beautiful,’ she adds. ‘Everything is spotless and there was a bed for my husband to sleep in of his own. Also, if you need a rest they can look after the baby for a couple of hours for you, which is just fantastic. We packed our bags a week in advance and to be honest I think we both thought we were off on some kind of weekend break, although obviously a birth can never be quite like that! But having a healthy baby, that’s what’s on every mother’s mind and it’s just such a relief when all is well and you have that confidence and reassurance from your doctor and midwife. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend The Birth Team – in fact, I’ve been telling everybody.

Sarah concludes: ‘It’s the yin and yang approach – a balance that most women miss out on, which is a shame. As far as we know, we’re the only birthing company in the UK that offer this kind of pregnancy care.

We would like to thank the team at The Birth Team, for providing their specialist knowledge for this article.

The Birth Team
Tel: +44 (0) 20 8421 8537
Email: cathie@thebirthteam.com
Web: www.thebirthteam.com/

Located at:
Spire Bushey Hospital
Heathbourne Road
Bushey
Hertfordshire, WD23 1RD

Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea Hospital
Du Cane Road,
London W12 0HS

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