Most women in the UK obtain their maternity care for free through the NHS, however there are also private choices available. From paying for scans to private hospitals, this guide shows what services are available before, during and after giving birth.

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How do I access maternity care in the National Health Service?

The majority of pregnant women in the UK are eligible for free care from the NHS during their entire pregnancy and delivery.

NHS antenatal care

You are provided with at least two free ultrasound scans and anywhere from seven to ten prenatal sessions with a midwife when you use the National Health Service (NHS). If you have needs that are more complicated, in addition to your sessions with the midwife, you will also see a consultant, who is a doctor.

Care provided by the NHS for expectant mothers

The delivery of most babies takes place in maternity units run by the NHS. If you decide to give birth at home, the NHS will send two midwives to your residence in order to provide you with assistance and support during the process. You will always have your own room for the birthing process, and you will be attended to by midwives regardless of whether you give birth in a birth centre or on a labour and delivery unit. Induction of labour, on the other hand, may necessitate that you deliver your baby in a shared prenatal ward. In a similar vein, if you require an overnight stay in the hospital after giving birth, it is highly likely that you will be transferred to a postnatal ward. In this ward, you will be required to share a room as well as a bathroom with a number of other mothers and their infants.

NHS postnatal care

After you’ve returned home, NHS midwives will give you postnatal checkups at regular intervals. This can take place in the comfort of your own home or at a nearby medical facility or community centre for children. There is no set number of appointments, but often a woman will see her midwife between three and four times in the postpartum period.

How can I improve the maternity care I receive from the NHS?

When you need more reassurance or comfort, you have the option to “mix and match” care from the National Health Service (NHS) and private providers, or you can pay for some supplementary services.

Private ultrasounds and blood testing during pregnancy

In this section of our guide to ultrasound scans supplied by the NHS and privately, we discuss the types of scans that will be made accessible to you by the NHS, as well as the types of scans that can be obtained privately. According to the results of a poll that we conducted in 2016, one in every six expecting parents reported having spent an additional $100 or more on an additional scan throughout their pregnancies. The ability to obtain detailed 3D and 4D photos of their unborn child was the primary motivation for more than half of the parents who paid for a scan out of pocket. Only four percent of parents reported having paid for additional blood tests for their children, most commonly to screen for health issues and to gain further confidence.

After the delivery, there will be a separate comfort room.

Women who plan to give birth in a facility run by the National Health Service (NHS) have the option of hiring a private “amenity” room within that facility for an additional fee. According to research conducted in 2018, the rooms are typically located immediately off the postnatal ward and can cost as much as £450 per night. Midwives employed by the National Health Service will continue to provide care to you. About five percent of the women who participated in our poll made the decision to purchase a private room at a National Health Service hospital when they gave birth. The bulk of them explained it to us by saying that they simply desired more privacy after giving baby.

Hiring a doula

A person who has received training in assisting expectant and new parents is known as a doula. This individual is not a member of the medical profession. They are not meant to serve in the place of other types of medical professionals, such as midwives. Your doula may work with you during your pregnancy, accompany you as a birth partner or advocate during the delivery of your baby, or provide support to you while you are caring for your newborn at home in the early days after delivery. What they give can be tailored to provide the level of assistance that you believe you require. According to the results of our poll, the majority of new parents who hired a doula did so for postnatal support, to gain more knowledge about how to care for a newborn, and to receive individualised, one-on-one assistance. Doula support packages often range in price from £800 to £2,000, with the exact amount being determined by factors such as the doula’s level of experience, your location, and the services that are included in the doula’s fee.

Is giving birth in a private hospital an option for me?

You have the option of giving birth in a private maternity hospital or in a private wing of a public health service hospital. Both options are available to you. You also have the option of receiving some or all of your antenatal care from obstetricians and midwives working in private clinics and hospitals. This option is also available to you.

What kind of financial commitment is required to give birth at a private hospital?

Packages will vary from hospital to hospital, but the average cost of giving birth in a private hospital and staying overnight for one night was £5,850 in 2020. This includes the cost of staying overnight for one night. It is important to keep in mind that if you require the services of an obstetrician, you will be required to pay their fees in addition to the fees for the birth, and each night that you spend in the hospital will add more to your bill. In addition to this, other extras may include things like expenses for the anaesthetist, paediatrician checkups, standard pathology testing, and any eventualities or emergencies that may arise, such as the need for neonatal care or Caesarean deliveries.

What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of giving birth at a private hospital?

You will most likely be attended to throughout labour by your obstetrician if you are giving birth in a private hospital or on a private floor of a public hospital, but you also have the option of receiving care from a midwife. If you have decided that you would like an elective C-section, you may find that you have to jump through fewer hoops to get the birth that you want at a private hospital, in comparison to if you are booked in with the NHS. This is because private hospitals are not subject to the same regulations that govern the NHS. After you have given delivery, you will be moved to a private room in the hospital that has its own bathroom and is equipped with hotel-style amenities. You will receive assistance and support for your initial postnatal care from private midwives.

Why do pregnant women and their partners opt to give birth in private hospitals?

We observed that the majority of women give birth within the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), but that approximately 5 percent of women chose to give birth in a private hospital instead. The primary motivation for their decision to seek treatment in a private setting was their desire to receive “more individualised medical care,” as well as an increased level of comfort.

Is it possible for me to hire a private midwife?

You certainly have the option to look into hiring a private or independent midwife if you desire more flexibility in your maternity care than what the NHS is able to supply for you. The cost of receiving private care from a private midwife during labour and delivery ranges anywhere from £2,000 to £5,000. The vast majority of independent midwives are more than pleased to accept payment in instalments or through flexible payment plans. In addition, some independent midwives may be willing to care for women at a discounted rate in exceptional cases. In this video, an independent midwife discusses what she perceives to be the advantages of utilising the services of a paid-for midwife who is not affiliated with the NHS in order to provide maternity care.

delivering the baby at home with the assistance of a private midwife

The majority of pregnant women who go with an independent or private midwife have their sights set on giving birth at home. If you are having trouble obtaining support for a home birth from the NHS facilities in your area, you may want to consider hiring a private midwife as an alternative. Even if you choose to give birth at home with the assistance of a private midwife, there is always the risk that you or your baby will require more medical care and will need to be taken to a hospital for delivery. In such a scenario, your care will be taken over by the NHS midwives and physicians working in the hospital. However, your private midwife will still be present to provide emotional and physical support throughout the labour and delivery process.

Care following delivery provided by a private midwife

Women who have used private midwives to deliver their babies have the option, for an additional fee, to continue visiting the same midwife who cared for them throughout their pregnancy after the baby is born. Some women might decide to enhance the postnatal treatment they receive from the NHS by going to additional private visits as well. A private midwife can aid you if you are having difficulty nursing, and she will also be a familiar face if you had a tough or painful birth. In addition to offering continuity of care, a private midwife can also help if you are having problems with breastfeeding.