Can't comment on home births in SE1 but thought I would ask whether you had thought of employing a Doula ?? They are not a midwife but a female birth companion - I used a birth doula for the birth of my son in St Thomas' Home Birth Centre in August 2005 and would highly recommend her. You can find out all about doulas on http://www.doula.org.uk/ and they have a databse you can search to find a local one.
They will be with you all the way through the birth and are about 10% the price of a private midwife (although not a replacement for !)
If you do decide to go down this route then I would highly recommend Gillian Samuel (no link just a very happy customer !)
I believe they support home births - but if in their centre, you'd have the reassurance of two obstetric theatres on the same floor, and an excellent neonatal care unit one floor down - just in case something does not go quite according to birth plan, but where one might need to act fast.
Do the aylesbury health centre still have the shared care system? go to see the g.p. but have baby at home...it existed many moons ago..i have had 4 children, one of whom was born at home...much better if you live near to medical assistance should you need it...
My son was born in the Home from Home Birth Centre at St Thomas'. Can higly recommend it - you get your own room room from when you arrive to when you check out, it has a sofa bed so hubby can rest (!) and they don't like to keep you in longer than 24 hours (result !) - also the view is magnificent as it faces the river overlooking the Houses of Parliamnet (I like to think it was my reward for being drug free!)
Having a doula was great - my husband spent most of my labour doing sudoko on the sofa whuilst the doula was my birth companion - which worked for us !
i attempted to have a home birth in Dec. 06 but had a placental abruption so sadly had to go to St. Thomas' and ended up having a crash c-section! didn't have a great experience unfortunately there although the surgeons were great. i think it is very understaffed and there was very little support around breast-feeding - very early on it was suggested by both mid-wives and paediatricans that i supplement with formula etc. i ignored this 'advice' and have been successfully breast-feeding for over 6 months. sorry to sound a tad bitter but just a warning as i was shocked at the experience.
however, i did find my medical practice (the one at Blackfriars) broadly supportive of home births. i also had a mid-wife from the team at St. Thomas' come to me at one point during labour and he (yes he, there seem to be several male midwives in the area) was absolutely amazing.
however, i feel that the policy of not having a mid-wife come to one's home until one's contractions are two minutes apart is not good enough, and you would not have the same person with you throughout your labour. if i could afford a mid-wife or doula next time i would go for that option - at home - for sure.
good luck with whichever option you choose, remember you can always book a home birth and change your mind at any time.
Hi Katy, the Riverside community midwives helped us with the birth of our son year before last. They gave amazing care and support before, during and after the birth - 2 midwives attended our home for the birth! They didn't do antenatal classes then, so we just attended the Albany drop-in classes at the Pulse in Peckham. A midwife at St Thomas's home birth unit put me in touch with them initially as I really didn't want to be anywhere near a hospital for the birth. Good luck with it all - here's the number for Becky 07939 564297 - head midwife of the practice.
We have a group of about 20 SE1 Yummy Mummies who get together about once a fortnight who are at various stages of bump or Bugaboo - drop me a personal message with your email if you would like to catch up with us next time. One of our ladies is infact planning an actual home birth (water at that!) in the next couple of weeks...
In terms of the St T midwife led Home from Home option as previously mentioned the extra motivation to last out on Gas and Air is that you do get to keep your private room for the night whereas if you give in to the call of the epidural and move through to the main maternity section you have the choice of spending your your first night on a ward with the restrictions of visiting hours for your partner or spending £600 on a private room...