Our maternity care
Welcome to OBGYN Matters. Our aim is to provide personal and individualised care in pregnancy.
Consultants Christian Barnick and Alison Wright work as independent contractors to the Portland hospital, London’s only private hospital dedicated entirely to the care of women and children. they see women in the private consulting rooms at 215 Great Portland Street, London and deliver their babies at the Portland hospital.
Women can be seen by either Consultant, depending on personal choice. Christian and Alison cover each other where possible and work closely with other Consultants at the Portland to ensure that there is a Consultant available at all times.
(For those women who have a preference to be looked after by a women only, Alison Wright will arrange for a female Consultant to cover if she is not available.);
What we offer all our clients:
Women/couples are seen by their own Consultant at each visit and given the chance to talk about any concerns and to discuss future plans. 30 minutes is usually allocated to each appointment to ensure that we are able fully explore any concerns that there may be regarding the birth and to consider preferences for birth (a birth plan) and choices for the delivery. At each visit we check the blood pressure and urine. In the later stages we feel for the baby’s position and size and listen to his/her heartbeat.
Scans and Blood Tests
Scans and blood tests will be arranged as necessary and swabs to screen for group B streptococci (GBS) will be discussed and offered.
Our screening tests are performed at the world renowned Fetal Medicine centre where nuchal translucency scanning for Down’s Sydrome was pioneered. Deciding whether or not to have these screening tests, and whether to have further diagnostic tests (chorionic villous sampling (CVS) or amniocentesis) can be very difficult. We offer support through the process, providing the information needed in a sensitive and non-judgemental way and we do respect these decisions are personal and individual.
Meeting the Midwives/Team
Women/couples are seen by their Consultant (Christian or Alison) throughout the pregnancy, and in labour are looked after by that Consultant, together with an experienced midwife. On the rare occasion that Chris or Alison are not available then women/couples are looked after by one of their consultant colleagues at the Portland.
During the pregnancy we arrange a ‘booking’ appointment for all women in our care to have the opportunity to meet the excellent midwives who work at the Portland.
We also work closely with the Portland’s expert obstetric anaesthetic doctors whom some of our women may wish to meet to talk through pain relief choices, including epidural. We can easily arrange this.
This is for women/couples who wish to have private care (with either Consultant Christian Barnick or Alison Wright) throughout their pregnancy, delivery and after delivery. With the availability of reliable home pregnancy testing kits, many women are now aware of their pregnancy at an early stage. We can be contacted directly at this time for an appointment.
This first visit is a really good time for women and their partners to ask us all the questions concerning them and to confirm their decision to be looked after by us. We like to see women/couples for their first pregnancy visit as early as possible, ideally between 6 and 8 weeks. The first visit will generally involve a full consultation and a routine examination. An internal examination is not usually necessary, but we may recommend a trans-vaginal ultrasound scan to confirm that all is well and that the pregnancy is developing as expected.
At the first visit we will also discuss the options available for screening for chromosomal abnormalities such as Down’s Syndrome. We offer a Harmony (NIPT) test at 10 weeks and a Nuchal Translucency scan at 11-13 weeks, combined with blood tests, which make the screening more accurate.
The next few early consultations:
A comprehensive series of blood tests will be offered at around 12-15 weeks. We arrange a detailed ultrasound (anatomy scan) at around 20 weeks when the growth of the baby is usually such that a careful examination of the development of all the crucial organs can be made.
The second half of pregnancy
We continue to see our clients at least at 24, 28, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40 and 41 weeks, sometimes every week in the final few weeks. These consultations usually last 30 minutes during which we check blood pressure, urine, baby’s position and heart beat and make sure that the pregnancy is progressing as it should. It gives us an opportunity to get to know each other, to build trust and confidence, and to discuss any concerns or difficulties. It also enables us to try and answer any questions that may arise.
Blood tests and ultrasound scans are performed as necessary, depending on the individual pregnancy. We would usually repeat blood tests at least at 28 and 36 weeks and perform a growth scan at least at the 32 weeks stage. As the pregnancy draws to a close we can also discuss your birth preferences. We will listen to your preferences and guide you on what we think are the best choices for your individual pregnancy. At around 38 weeks we perform a vaginal examination to assess the pelvis and the neck of the womb (and offer swabs for GBS). This examination may give us additional information on how long we might expect the pregnancy to continue and how easy or difficult we think the birth will be! Towards the end of the pregnancy, a plan for the birth/delivery will be discussed in more detail. We will talk about the signs to watch out for associated with spontaneous labour in addition to the pros and cons of induction of labour and Caesarean Section if required. We will ensure that all our clients are able to contact us 24 hours a day for advice or assistance and that they are aware of what to do in the event of a problem. Once in labour, we aim to provide continuity wherever possible, so that women are looked after by their own Consultant (Christian or Alison), together with one of the Portland’s excellent midwives.
A postnatal check at 2-3 weeks after going home completes the complete pregnancy care package. This appointment provides an opportunity to discuss the birth experience with us, and any concerns, whilst we can check that mother and baby are well.
We feel passionately about the importance of making the whole birth experience a happy one, which women and their families will want to repeat with us in the future!
A hospital tour
We will also offer a tour of the Portland hospital so that women can see where they will be having their baby and where they will stay for the first few days after the birth.
The Portland also offers additional maternity services such as one to one specialist physiotherapy support for women who require this, besides classes in yoga and pilates, hypnotherapy and acupuncture. Antenatal or Active Birth Classes can be arranged at the hospital. Some women/couples may also wish to contact the Natural Childbirth Trust to arrange classes in their local area. This is a great way to meet other pregnant women and to form a local support network.
Towards the end of the pregnancy, a plan for the birth/delivery will be discussed in more detail. We will talk about the signs to watch out for associated with spontaneous labour in addition to the pros and cons of induction of labour and Caesarean Section if required. We will ensure that all our clients are able to contact us 24 hours a day for advice or assistance and that they are aware of what to do in the event of a problem. Once in labour, we aim to provide continuity, so that wherever possible women are looked after by their own Consultant (Christian or Alison), together with one of the Portland’s excellent midwives.
For the labour and birth, we will provide a private room on the 7th floor of the Portland hospital. The rooms are all nicely furnished, very comfortable and have en-suite bathrooms. Each room is also equipped with the latest state of the art technology that may occasionally be required for the safety of mother and baby. Women and their birth partner(s) stay in this room until after the birth of the baby. If an epidural is required, a dedicated consultant anaesthetist is on site 24 hours every day to provide this service and if medical help is needed for the baby there is also a resident paediatrician, again 24 hours a day.
For the safety of the mother, in case of emergencies, we have a fully equipped High Dependency Unit on the delivery suite. We also have a dedicated operating theatre for emergency Caesarean Sections. The Portland ins the only private maternity hospital to have a Resident Consultant Obstetric Aneasthestis for 24hrs a day 365 days a year. For the new born baby, we have a resident paediatrician, we have consultants on call 24 hrs a day and we have a Special Care Baby Unit which can look after babies from 28 weeks gestation. These private maternity facilities are second to none.
We understand that the first few days of motherhood can be a new and sometimes difficult experience and so we aim to provide all the help and support that may be needed at this stage. The Portland hospital has facilities to enable partners to stay at this time which most women find makes a real difference. There are midwives, health care assistants, physiotherapists, breast feeding counsellors and ourselves on hand. There is also a nursery. This enables women to rest, recover and be supported in the early days of motherhood. In the few days following the birth, we will visit, usually daily, until women and their babies are well and confident enough to go home. In addition, care is provided by a team of experienced midwives. They will keep a check on blood pressure, pulse and temperature, provide advice and support, and generally help to look after the baby. Following discharge home from the Portland, the midwives will arrange a local community midwife to visit mothers and babies at home. As always, Alison and Christian will by available by telephone to talk through any unresolved concerns
At the Portland we are keen to promote breast feeding. Breast feeding isn’t easy and many women struggle in the first few days following delivery. At the Portland we have a Breast Feeding Counsellor (bold) who is available to help should you have any problems. We are keen to ensure that you obtain the support that you require.
Late booking for pregnancy our care
If you are already in your second or third trimester, it is not too late to register with us and receive our Consultant care for the remaining weeks of your pregnancy and delivery.