Having been fortunate enough to complete tours of the Birth Centres at Lewisham and Queen Elizabeth hospitals previously (see my earlier blogs for my viewpoints! QEH and Lewisham) I was interested to attend the Pregnancy Information Evening at Lewisham hospital. These evenings (which are also held at QEH) are aimed at expectant mothers, where they can find out about a wide range of maternity services in their borough and surrounds and include a brief tour of the Birth Centre and Labour Ward. The evening takes place at 7pm on the first Wednesday of the month at Lewisham Hospital and on the 3rd Wednesday of the month at QEH. I decided to attend the Pregnancy Information evening at Lewisham hospital on Wednesday.
University Hospital Lewisham
I arrived at the Women’s Health Centre around 15 minutes after the evening had started; it is straightforward to park in the local streets and parking restrictions have lifted at that time in the evening (at the date of posting). I was buzzed into the room and immediately confronted by a crowd of people, definitely standing room only! The maternity service providers were in the process of introducing themselves and I was given a numbered slip of paper for the tour (tour 8 - with hindsight it’s clearly worth trying to be punctual!!)
The maternity services represented were: hypnobirthing class providers, doulas, antenatal class providers, community midwives, health visitors, an umbilical cord blood harvest organisation, a pregnancy yoga teacher, a representative from an expectant dads’ group, breastfeeding supporters, the Dogs’ Trust and a representative from the South London Sling Library and Real nappies for London. It felt like a good variety of providers; I was glad not to see disposable nappies or pushy ‘Bounty’ style new-born photoshoots represented (though independent birth photographers wouldn’t have been out of place). The only aspect that I felt was slightly lacking were the needs of the new mother after the birth (postnatal doulas, mum & baby activity classes, breastfeeding cafes…), though I’m not sure there wouldn’t have been space for that!!
Everyone I talked to was eager to help without being too pushy; the atmosphere throughout the evening was an overwhelmingly positive one. Time is so precious, so parents may not want to spend separate evenings finding out about each individual provider so having them all in one place is a real bonus. I was also really pleased to see the needs of new dads being considered, something that is often overlooked. The evening also raises awareness of the existence of more obscure organisations that might otherwise pass expectant parents by. Although a great deal of information is available on the internet, the chance ‘put a face to a name’ and have someone ready and willing to answer your questions (and demo the products in the case of slings & nappies) is invaluable. I think that it is a wonderful resource for local parents and parents-to-be to get a feel for what is available to them within their local area in one fell swoop.
I am located at the border of the London boroughs of Bexley, Lewisham and Greenwich and close to Bromley and North Kent so researched similar events in these NHS trust regions. I could not find similar anywhere other than in Greenwich as mentioned above. I would love to hear from you in a comment below if you DO know of a similar event in your local area.