First-time mum Joanne Standring delivered her son Ronnie at King’s College Hospital London, in Dubai Hills, earlier this year – the second ever birth at this brand new, state-of-the-art hospital. Here, Joanne tells us why she chose King's as her hospital and how her experience lived up to expectations.
Why did you choose King’s College Hospital London, in Dubai Hills, as your birthing hospital?
What initially attracted us to King’s was the fact that it’s a British hospital and it’s got that famous British name, which helped to put our minds at ease. When we visited the hospital we were impressed with the British-trained midwives and the state-of-the-art facilities.
What were the hospital’s antenatal services like?
The antenatal classes were fantastic. There were three classes that we came to on Friday mornings, led by the hospital’s team of midwives who were brilliant; they talked us through what to expect in the build-up, throughout pregnancy and afterwards. The classes were really useful and I liked that the sessions were led by different midwives, so, by the time I came in to give birth, I felt comfortable that I knew a lot of the staff.
You delivered by C-section. What was this experience like at King’s?
I was worried about having a C-section, but our OBGYN Dr Gowri was very reassuring and kept me calm throughout, so the procedure itself wasn’t stressful. Because I had a C-section, the midwives were with us 24/7 for three days after. They showed us how to do all the things we didn’t know how to do yet, like burping and changing nappies.
What was the postnatal care like when you went home?
After I was discharged, the midwives came out to us after 24 hours, which was really good because we were a bit scared about going home. I have very little experience with babies as there’s no children in my family, so Ronnie was actually the first baby I’d been around. They made sure we were okay, that the baby was doing well and if we had any questions – which we did! We had a long list of questions … everything seems more worrying when you get home. I was breastfeeding, so they made sure Ronnie was latching on properly and getting what he needed and they checked me over to make sure my body was recovering properly. The midwives were fantastic and put our minds at ease by assuring us we were doing everything right.
What were the highlights of the care you received at King’s?
The consistency of advice amongst the midwives was fantastic. It really helped that we didn’t get different opinions, or approaches. The hospital itself is phenomenal – it’s like staying in a hotel! The support and the facilities truly are amazing.
Holistic care throughout pregnancy and beyond
Joanne’s doctor, Dr Gowri Ramanathan, is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, and a specialist in fetal medicine, and the Chief Medical Officer at King’s College Hospital London, in Dubai Hills. She has 11 years’ experience practising as a clinician in the UAE, which she says has given her invaluable insight into what women in the region prefer from a birth experience.
What’s the best thing about being an OBGYN?
I thoroughly enjoy doing obstetrics and fetal medicine. I think I have the best job in the world, because I enter into a family’s life at the most important time in that couple’s journey – the moment when they become parents. I get to walk them through their pregnancy and, ultimately, help them with the birth of their child – it’s a real honour.
How does it feel to have helped deliver the first babies at this prestigious hospital, including little Ronnie?
I feel privileged to have been the obstetrician at the launch of the hospital’s maternity facilities –and to have delivered Joanne and Lewis’ wonderful baby boy. They have been a lovely couple to look after throughout the pregnancy and it was amazing to have been there at that most important time in their lives, when the baby was born.
What is unique about the obstetric care patients experience at King’s?
What we offer at King’s is a little different to what was previously available here in the UAE. Our mums’ experiences are exactly as they would be at our UK hospital. This means we have midwives as well as obstetricians who look after women both antenatally as well as during labour. We have a wonderful programme of antenatal sessions run by midwives together with obstetricians, where any issues or concerns can be shared. During labour we practise midwifery-led care, which is quite unique in this region.
Midwife-led and shared care practises
Midwifery-led care is a welcome addition to the maternity landscape of the UAE with midwives administering care throughout a patient’s pregnancy, until the obstetrician is needed during labour. The midwife-led care continues postnatally, too, with midwife-led mum and baby clinics and home care check-ups to assist and guide mums and dads during the first stages of parenthood. Hannah Duncan, a midwife sister at King’s College Hospital London, in Dubai Hills, tells us about the postnatal services on offer and how they can help families with newborns.
Why is midwife-led care important to patients?
King’s College Hospital London, in Dubai Hills, is unique in the aspect that it offers midwifery-led care, which allows us midwives to practise autonomously alongside the doctors. This enables us to enhance the continuity of care of the women coming through our clinics antenatally, during labour and postnatally, too.
Tell us about the postnatal clinics and support you offer.
Here at King’s, we instigated the Well Mum and Baby Clinic when the hospital opened, because we realized that postnatal care was less prevalent in the UAE. The Well Mum and Baby Clinic promotes continuity of care postnatally for mums, babies and dads, and we offer a service to carry out postnatal checks on the mum and her baby where we weigh the baby, monitor development, offer breastfeeding support and other types of support for mums as well as support for dads.
What kind of lactation support is available?
The breastfeeding support units here at King’s are excellent and we have lactation consultants and midwives on hand. As midwives, we are also trained lactation consultants, so if there are any problems with breastfeeding we can facilitate solutions. If mums are breastfeeding for the first time and need support they can come to the Well Mum and Baby Clinic for guidance.
What home care services do you offer at King’s?
Our home care service is one of the things that differentiates us from other maternity hospitals in the UAE. It means that we truly do offer a continuity of care for mums, dads and babies with five- or 10-day packages, whereby we can facilitate the needs for them well beyond their stay in the hospital. We ask the family when they would like us to come to their home, so it’s tailored around them and their needs.
Why is the ‘continuity of care’ so important?
For first-time mums, the transition to motherhood can be really difficult. Even if it’s your second or third baby, it can be difficult to add another newborn to the family as each baby is different. So we want to make sure the postnatal care for mums is seamless, in the sense that we follow up with support in the clinic after the birth and over the foreseeable future, in case the mums have any problems. We want first-time mums to feel fully supported so they don’t feel alone, which is especially important here in Dubai, where many mums are far away from their own families. We also like to work in partnership with the dads to make sure the mum has all the support she needs.
The Well Mum and Baby Clinics are complimentary for mums and babies under six months old, and are held every Thursday and Sunday, 2pm to 5pm.
Photography by Antonin Kelian Kallouche.