Natasha's maternity journey

Natasha Maternity journey HCA UK

Earlier this year, after a series of nerve-wracking events during Natasha’s pregnancy, she decided to give birth at The Portland. Natasha reflects on the level of care she received, and why she would never give birth anywhere else again.

A series of events

Natasha had some bleeding in every trimester of her pregnancy, so she was on high alert. At 29 weeks, Natasha had her first show. After being told by the maternity triage that it was an emergency on the telephone and to come in, Natasha then endured a five hour wait before being seen, and was then told that spotting was normal and that the mucus plug can regenerate. This was one of many daunting experiences Natasha endured throughout her pregnancy. After this experience and coupled with the anxiety Natasha had felt during her pregnancy, she felt she needed a higher level of attention, so her and her partner started to look at the different packages available: 

'We looked at a number of private hospitals; there were a couple of things that really stood out for us. With a lot of the other packages, if you needed consultant intervention when in active labour they would charge you additional fees, but the Portland didn’t do that which was reassuring. In the end we needed a consultant before that, but it was reassuring that the cost wasn’t going to spiral and we were happy to spend the money on the safe delivery of our baby. I would do it all over again.’

The Friday before labour 

A few days before labour on Friday the 23rd of September, once Natasha had transferred to The Portland, which just before 30 weeks, she woke up and her pyjama bottoms were wet: 

‘There was a little bit of dark blood, so I went to get it checked out. At this point, I had moved to the Portland. on a midwife led package. They (the nurses at The Portland) did  the cough test, to see if my amniotic fluid was trickling when I coughed. This wasn’t completely conclusive so they did a further test, similar to a Covid test, they tested the fluid which would confirm for definite if it was my amniotic fluid and unfortunately two lines appeared. I was told that 50% of women go into labour within the first 24 hours of their waters trickling but I could go up to 36 weeks if I’m lucky.’

The pregnancy was then classed as high risk, as once her amniotic fluid was leaking, she could give birth at any point, and at that point the baby would have been premature by 7 weeks.

‘At that point it couldn’t be a midwife led delivery, I needed a consultant to make sure everything was OK, with the likelihood the baby would need to get out quickly and need some extra support.’

This was very worrying for Natasha, but she still held out hope she would go to 36 weeks. 

‘They had to give me steroid injections on the Friday when I went in to speed up the development of the baby’s lungs in case he was premature.'

The weekend before birth 

Natasha was monitored overnight, but managed to attend her baby on the Saturday, albeit with bad back-ache all day. 

‘On the following Monday my back ache become r much worse, I was going in for a scan on the Monday morning and was working from home the rest of the day. By Monday evening I was pretty much on all fours trying to finish up some work emails, and my Mum and partner were both asking me if I was sure that I wasn’t in labour; I was convinced I wasn’t.’

The birth 

Natasha was in fact in labour, which Eleni Mavrides, her consultant, had guessed would be the case very soon after seeing her that same day and after Natasha spoke with her on the phone that evening: 

‘After speaking to the consultant I went in to the hospital to get checked and to my surprise I was 1cm dilated. 4.5 hours later my contractions were strong and fast but I had only moved half a centimetre, because my waters hadn’t fully broken. Eleni broke my waters and I gave birth four hours later. The baby was born back to back which made sense as my contractions were mainly at the back. She was a great consultant, and provided me with the reassurance I needed before and during the labour.’


Roman’s journey to leaving the hospital

The steroid injections Eleni had suggested pre-birth had been so worthwhile when she gave birth to Roman:

‘Eleanor warned me that the baby may not come out crying as he was premature and he may need a little help to take his first breath. It was such a relief to hear him crying after he came out and he only needed  oxygen to support with his breathing for a couple of hours and not at all after that.’ 

Roman Natashas baby HCA UK

However, as Roman was 7 weeks premature, there were other considerations before he could go home: 

‘Roman was 4.4 pounds, so very small. He didn’t know how to suck/feed, so they fed him through a tube. He couldn’t manage his own temperature, so he was in an incubator and he had jaundice throughout his stay. He needed a little bit of help breathing at the start too which I mentioned. ’ 


Natasha noted that the hospital was very aware of her package, which included ten days in NICU; and that the nurses, her consultant and the neo-natal doctor Dr Maalouf did everything they could to safely prepare Roman for going home as quickly as they could: 

‘In NICU you only get ten days as part of your package and then it is very expensive, which we could not afford. The neo-natal doctor was really good, he was aware of the 10-day turnaround and trying to get us home, but also ensuring Roman was ready to come home. They asked me the name of my local hospital in case Roman would need to be transferred after the 10 days were up, which made me feel very anxious and worried, I didn’t want him to go there after my prior experiences. They were sensitive to the ten days I need and went above and beyond to stop me having to transfer to the other hospital which I was so grateful for.

This was of great comfort to Natasha. But Natasha’s standout experience of her stay at The Portland was the staff looking after Roman in NICU: 

‘My experience was amazing, the staff in NICU, went above and beyond to care for my baby and it made a really difficult experience that big easier. From my whole experience, the NICU staff are the people that stood out to me the most. The way they cared and doted on Roman, still makes me emotional. At one point he was the only baby there for 5 days so he had two or three nurses caring for him. Claudia in particular really stood out for me. She called him Mr. Roman and now his nick name at home is Mr. Roman too. The NICU staff helped me to feed him and improve his latch, they let me change him when he was in the incubator and care for him so I was ready to completely take over once he was discharged. They were just as supportive to me as they were for the baby which I’ll always be thankful for.’


Taking Roman home

Upon taking Roman home, she found initially that he was in such a good routine from his time at The Portland, that Natasha and her partner were able to continue this: 

‘He was in such a good routine at the hospital so we carried that on when we went home. He was feeding every three hours, I was expressing every 3 hours. We stuck to it for the week and a half. He is now drinking well over double – he is now 7 pounds. He would have been due on the 11th November so he is at birth weight now.’ 

roman newborn with orange beanie

Natasha feels she has recovered too:

‘I felt my recovery was more of an emotional recovery than physical. When your baby is in NICU you don’t think about yourself but about your baby and their recovery. The hardest part for me was the separation whist he was in NICU.’

Finally, Natasha shares her thoughts on whether she would recommend The Portland: 

‘I would 100% recommend. I wouldn’t have a baby anywhere else. The thing that stood out the most was NICU. If I were to have another premature baby, knowing they would get that amazing level of care, makes my decision a nobrainer.’ 

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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