An interview with Katie Selman: mother of three and ex-client.
What made you decide to choose an Independent midwife?
During my mid twenties, I was working in a large office with lots of women who were pregnant or had young children. I heard stories from them of the situations they’d faced at hospital during their births or post-natal period that filled me with dread. I was living in Wandsworth, known as Nappy Valley due to its high birth rate so I didn’t need much convincing that the local hospitals were overrun and unable to cope with the many women passing through their doors. As a child, I had had a bad experience at hospital and still as an adult, was highly uncomfortable in hospital or clinical environments so I was worried about going into hospital in labour and shutting down.
By chance, I saw an article about Annie from NM in the local SW Magazine. The headline was “One woman, one midwife” which summed up all my concerns. I kept it and once I was pregnant, I called Annie and we met to discuss the options. I still remember that first meeting. It turned out she had delivered a baby on our house with previous owners!
There was no question from then on that we would have an independent midwife looking after us. The care during my pregnancy was superb and I stopped seeing my NHS midwife after my 21wk scan – I simply didn’t need to as I had all I needed in Annie and my second midwife, Tina. Initially I had been planning a hospital birth with Annie attending, but as the time drew near, I strongly felt I wanted to be at home if I could be and that is testament to the relationship I had built with Annie and Tina.
Why did you feel it was worth paying for this care if it is free on the NHS?
In reality, the care you receive on the NHS is the bare minimum for obvious reasons, and the system is so huge that inevitably you become a number.
Having our first child was a steep learning curve and you have so many questions and concerns, I wanted to know that I had always had someone there for me and my baby, especially as my parents live so far away. It wasn’t that a needed specialist medical attention (e.g obstetrics) but just someone who could answer the hundreds of questions and allay any concerns I had. I never worried at any point in any of my pregnancies as I had such frequent appointments and monitoring (without the hour’s wait at hospital!) that I always knew everything was fine.
With my two subsequent pregnancies, the questions and concerns were different again as I tried to juggle toddlers and pregnancy but Annie & Tina are so experienced, that they adapted to my differing situation and could take into account the nursery runs and house renovations I was fitting in to my pregnancy! I enjoyed all of my pregnancies and births because I was 100% confortable with my care and the support I received.
Was there ever a time you thought you had made the wrong decision?
Never. I can honestly say it was the best decision we ever made. I look back on the births of my three children with huge fondness and joy & that is because of the amazing care I received from Tina and Annie. They were three very different pregnancies and births, not without their complications, but I know that I had the best care possible, when I needed it most. I feel so lucky to have been given such positive memories of the whole experience. I know it is possible to have a good experience within the NHS but I felt the odds were against that & I wasn’t prepared to chance it that on the day, I’d be one of the lucky ones. I wanted to enjoy the whole process & I believe having Annie and Tina with me every step of the way made all the difference.
If you had had to choose between, say a holiday, or a new kitchen/bathroom and private midwifery care what would have been your rationale and choice?
Those things are nice to haves….but in life, there are few events bigger than the birth of your children. For most, even your wedding day comes second place. You can never repeat that individual pregnancy or birth but you can have that holiday in the future. Having done it with our first child, there was no question that we would repeat the care again for our second and third children.
Is there anything you would say to a woman who was unsure whether it was the right thing to do?
I think you need to understand how much support and advice you need during pregnancy and birth. And if you want to share that experience with strangers or with people you’ve come to know and trust. In terms of birth specifically, it’s a very mental process in my opinion – your body knows what to do but you have to be mentally prepared and able to allow your body to do what it needs to. It can be scary and overwhelming but when you’re surrounded by people who know you, it is empowering and gives you huge confidence in your own abilities. You can guarantee you’ll have a great experience with an independent midwife – it might not be easy but you’ll know it was the best it could be because your midwife will be totally committed to you and making sure you and your baby thrive.
What about her partner, what would you say to him?
My husband has this to say:
I was sceptical at first, inevitably. “What if there’s a blue light moment? Isn’t it more dangerous” are obvious questions any man will ask his partner.
As soon as I’d got my head around the idea, having been convinced to meet Annie, I was totally sold. It’s hard as you aren’t often at the antenatal appointments so you don’t get to see the midwives as much as your partner but still, we did meet several times whereas in hospital, we would have total strangers in the room.
Continuous care, your environment, the ability to go in to hospital if you have to, a happy wife, the unlikely requirement for intervention, being at home once the baby is delivered. It all made sense.
The postnatal care was also amazing and a really special, intimate time for us as a new family. Their help then was invaluable as breastfeeding was established and I had plenty of questions over nappies and burping!
The three births were all different and certainly more hands on than I ever expected. They were incredible life moments and I’m glad we shared them with people we trusted in a safe, warm, clean, non-hospitalised environment.
Consensus opinion tells you hospital is best, yet most women seem to have an intervention there and I don’t believe they have your ultimate best interests at heart, relative to an independent midwife.
The best money we ever spent (even better than my Vespa scooter!) and I would recommend to anyone. I realise it is an individual choice but for us, it was an amazing experience.