Private Midwifery: Why pay when it’s free on the NHS?

A subject that comes up quite a lot when talking to people about what I do, is why people would pay for private midwifery care when they can get for free on the NHS? It’s an understandable question and one I asked myself A LOT before making the move from an NHS Midwife to being an Independent Midwife. As an NHS midwife for over 7 years, I have been able to witness first hand how brilliant the NHS is and, sadly, how challenging it can be for midwives and parents-to-be.

The NHS has been available to all for over 71 years and is a service that is frankly incredible, serving millions of people every single day regardless of your income, gender, social status, and background. We are very lucky to have access to free medical care and our NHS is the envy of the world. Like any service, particularly those in the public sector it is hard to provide tailored care for everyone. Population increases, government cuts and a decline in midwives is making it harder to provide quality care for parents going through what many consider to be the most magical moment of their life. 

The NHS is fantastic, and I do still occasionally work for an NHS trust when times get super busy and they need more help, I do really love the people that you meet on the ward from all walks of life, different backgrounds, different countries and often very different challenges. The NHS has to cater to a large array of circumstances which can include diabetes, fetal medicine, maternal medicine (heart problems, epilepsy, haematological conditions, etc).

Time frames such as appointment slots within clinics, staffing, availability of beds all have an impact and adds to the challenges of being able to provide individualized midwifery care. I often found myself in clinics seeing over 20 women a day, with only 15-20 minutes allocated to them. Knocks came on the door if I ran over, and for me, it felt like I had women on a conveyor belt, trying to support them as well as I could in the circumstances.

I often found myself working longer hours to try and ensure that all the needs were met, sadly sometimes there just weren’t enough hours in the day. Shifts on the wards were much the same, I remember several night shifts on delivery suite. Meeting a mum to be at the most vulnerable time, knowing nothing about her, reading notes, asking questions trying to build a relationship quickly, writing notes, trying to support and encourage through birth, then once baby was born – the pressure was on to complete the notes, weigh baby, breastfeeding support, encourage to shower and dress before transfer, all within approx 2 hours…and then on to the next person and it starts all over again.

Thankfully this was done with the help of amazing maternity support assistants, but again not true continuity of care, not relaxed, not able to give the midwifery care I wanted to be able to give. I have to be honest, I didn’t always enjoy my job, often felt stressed and like I was letting women down and I felt burnt out. The care I offer now is very different!

In late 2018 I decided to launch into private midwifery and set up Brighter Births with the sole aim of providing the tools, knowledge and time to help parents have a positive birth experience. There are around 150  Independent/private midwives in the UK and all who practice are required to be fully trained, have indemnity insurance and be registered with the NMC. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to provide a relaxed environment, continuity of support and regular contact for parents during this challenging, yet exciting, period.

Private Midwifery, surrey, sussex, london

❤ One of the things I love most about private midwifery is the continuity of care and support that I offer to my clients. Getting to know a client and her family throughout their pregnancy journey is truly a privilege. Our appointments are relaxed, not restricted by time and I can concentrate on being ‘with woman’ (and family) – Midwifery care as it should be. If a women’s journey is more complex, I will support by attending Obstetric clinic appointments with them, discuss evidence around recommendations made so women can research and make fully informed decisions, without feeling pressured and coerced. I support women through their hospital births as a professional birth partner/advocate, so although my lovely NHS colleagues take the lead in a hospital setting, I am the continuity and will do my best to ensure clients have the best experience possible. 

I am not on my own, I have the most amazing colleagues around me whom I work closely with. One of them will always be my second Midwife at a birth (yes you get two!) – Its always nice to have a spare pair of hands, even if more often than not its to make cups of tea and write the notes whilst I concentrate on the most important job – supporting and being with my clients. The next phase is the postnatal period, although sometimes challenging for parents, is one of the most magical times for me.  Seeing parents grow in confidence, witnessing the bond develop between new family members and of course observing little personalities grow – It’s a feeling for me that I really can’t explain, being able to support families through the good times and harder times is such a rewarding experience.  

I love the way I work now, it is hard work and it gives me so much satisfaction that it genuinely doesn’t feel like work. I have the flexibility to attend courses of interest to me to expand my skills and knowledge, after all, Private Midwifery is a life-long learning career and its a career I love and feel very honoured to have.

In summary, I do truly believe the NHS is great and what they do with the resources they have, is truly astounding. Private Midwifery is a very different experience, it provides much more continuity of care and a really personal framework for birth support. Of course, the above is written from my own perspective so please take the time to do further research, there’s a wealth of information out there. Here is a great article on ‘what midwifery options are available, now that I’m pregnant’.

I believe all women should be afforded the opportunity to explore personalised midwifery care and have a positive birthing experience where they feel empowered, educated and fully supported. Private Midwifery is an opportunity to invest in your birth experience, whilst it does come at a cost, I can guarantee clients that my packages are fairly priced, packed with added value and delivered with empathy and passion. 

Check out my packages and if you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask.

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