Ante-natal care is important to monitor the health and wellbeing of the mother-to-be and her baby so that help can be provided if an issue arises. Women booking at Conception, Birth and Beyond will have all their ante-natal appointments with Mr Davis and receive an exceptional standard of care. Appointments are held from 12 weeks of pregnancy until delivery of the baby and are normally scheduled once every four weeks until 28 weeks, fortnightly until 36 weeks and weekly for the remainder of the pregnancy.
The appointments offer an opportunity for the woman or couple to ask questions or discuss any concerns they have regarding the pregnancy. During this time, Mr Davis will perform an examination and tests.
Blood pressure is checked at every visit. This is to make sure that she is not developing pregnancy induced hypertension. Raised blood pressure when combined with swollen ankles, headaches and protein in the urine can mean pre-eclampsia, a condition that may lead to seizures if left untreated. It can be treated with anti-hypertensives or if it develops after the point of viability, by the timely delivery of the baby.
A urine sample will be tested at every visit. This test looks for albumin and protein presence in the urine. Either of these could mean there is an infection. It also checks for ketones and persistent high sugar levels.
Ketones are substances that are released when the body utilises fat reserves to obtain energy. As this is normally obtained from carbohydrates in the diet, a urine test that is positive for ketones may mean that the mother-to-be is not eating enough or that she has a metabolic disorder. Finding sugar in the urine regularly could be an indicator of gestational diabetes, a temporary diabetic disorder that occurs during pregnancy and usually goes away after the baby is born. Monitoring mothers with gestational diabetes is particularly important because their babies tend to grow very large which could present challenges in natural childbirth.
Blood tests will be offered to determine the woman’s blood group, check her iron levels and screen for diabetes and sexually transmitted infections.
The blood group is required to ensure the woman receives the correct donated blood during childbirth if she requires it and to check her rhesus status. Rhesus negative mothers are offered anti-D injections because in subsequent pregnancies with rhesus positive babies, their immune system may attack their baby as a ‘foreign body’ and the injections help to prevent this.
Iron levels are checked routinely. Mothers who are anaemic prior to delivery have a higher risk of post-partum haemorrhage so making sure levels are healthy is vital for an expectant mum.
All women are offered blood tests for sexually transmitted diseases. This is because some infections can lead to miscarriage or stillborn and for HIV, it is recommended that the baby is delivered via caesarean to minimise the risk of transmission. However, these tests are entirely voluntary.
An abdominal examination checks the fundal height (size of the uterus). For every week of pregnancy, there is 1cm of fundal growth. Measurements can don’t match up could indicate that baby isn’t growing as expected. Abdominal palpation can sometimes also identify the position of the baby.
Ultrasound scans are offered at every appointment to check the size and confirm the position of the baby. At 12 weeks, 20 weeks and 34 weeks every woman booked with Mr Davis will also be offered detailed scans with Professor Jauniaux, a foetal medicine specialist at the Portland Hospital Fetal Medicine Centre. These are to screen for abnormalities and identify whether in-utero treatment needs to be given.
Some women would like the reassurance of a consultant-led birth for their baby. They may want an expert on hand in case the birth doesn’t go according to plan or if the pregnancy is high risk. Women who come from outside of the UK may prefer a consultant-led delivery because it is closer to their country of origin’s form of maternity care. In the U.S.A, for example, babies are routinely delivered by obstetricians.
Some choose private maternity care because it can offer more choice than an NHS delivery. A caesarean section, for example, can be booked if the mother-to-be desires one. The ability to choose the type of birth gives women more control and leads to greater satisfaction over the birthing experience.
Mr Davis delivers babies at The Portland Hospital – the UK’s only independent private maternity hospital with an on-site neonatal intensive care unit for babies who are born prematurely or who have additional medical needs. Women who choose him to deliver their baby will also have access to the facilities and services at the Portland. Some of the advantages of having a baby privately include:
Women who opt for an NHS hospital delivery won’t be able to develop a patient relationship with one particular midwife who will see her in the antenatal clinic and be there when her baby is born. The midwives allocated depend on who is on duty at the time and they may never have met the midwife they see when they go into labour. At Conception, Birth and Beyond, Consultant Obstetrician Mr Davis will conduct all ante-natal checks and he will be there to deliver the baby too.
Women in higher risk categories may find consultant care reassuring. Women over 40, those who have had a stillborn child, mothers with medical conditions and twin gestation are all examples of pregnancies that require doctor-led care.
If stronger pain relief is required, the expectant mother is guaranteed an anaesthetist will be there. No one will tell her that there isn’t one available.
Holistic birthing options are available for women who want to try natural birth but in the safety of a hospital. Water birth pools, birthing balls for active labour and birthing stools are all available. If the mother-to-be is interested in trying hypnobirthing (hypnosis to induce a state of relaxation during birth) then midwifery staff can assist Mr Davis and help make this possible. Relaxing muscles and breathing evenly during contractions may reduce the pain. On the other end of the spectrum, a planned caesarean is available for any woman who wants one.
If a new mum is having a caesarean or she would like to rest after the birth, full nursery care is available for her baby. Mothers who need an instrumental delivery (ventouse or forceps) may also find the extra pair of hands invaluable.
All mothers delivering at The Portland Hospital are offered a consultation with a lactation consultant to help them get breastfeeding off to a good start. Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for a baby and has several benefits for mum too.
24 hour room service is available when admitted as a maternity in-patient and chefs can cater for most diets including to accommodate those with allergies.
All rooms have television sets, air conditioning, direct dial phones and en-suite bathrooms.
Dads don’t have to go home once the baby is born. If they want to stay and get to know their newborn, they are welcome. Visiting hours are of a long duration, allowing siblings to spend good quality time with their new brother or sister.P