Outstanding maternity care: Giving birth at Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea Hospital

Maternity services at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust are the first in London to receive an outstanding rating from the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Trust maternity risk management support midwife Suzy Ridley has recently experienced our outstanding care from the other side, and her maternity journey at Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea Hospital has been followed by Children’s BBC programme ‘Operation Ouch’.

Here, Suzy shares why her personal inside knowledge of the hospital led her to choose Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea for the birth of both of her children.

I joined the Trust as a risk management support midwife in 2014. My job is to help ensure our maternity services are as safe as they can be for every mother and baby.

When I first found out I was pregnant in 2016, I was initially planning to have my baby at a hospital closer to home, but at 28 weeks I was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism, which is where a blood clot blocks an artery in the lung. At that point I made the decision to switch my care to Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea Hospital (QCCH). Knowing the hospital as I do, I was confident in the expertise of the team in dealing with challenging pregnancies including mine. I also really appreciated having a team of friendly faces to help me through the remainder of my pregnancy.

Ongoing reassurance

Despite this unexpected event, I was really keen to have as natural a birth as I could. I did not want any sort of unnecessary medical intervention if it could be helped. I feel fortunate that I had the support of a team of experts helping me to get the birth I wanted, including haematologists, the maternal medicine team and of course, the midwives. I was given additional midwife appointments and extra scans to make sure everything was OK, and fortunately both me and my son remained healthy throughout my pregnancy.

My experience turned out exactly as I wanted it to – I was actually fully dilated when I arrived at the hospital and my birth was quick and completely natural. The lights in the delivery room were dimmed and the whole experience was calm. Afterwards, I was able to stay in a side room, with my partner Michael and our newborn son, and we were home by mid-afternoon the following day.

A new found empathy

Being a patient at Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea gave me some really important insights. The first is, you don’t have to be a mum yourself to be an amazing midwife. The midwives that looked after me couldn’t have been more calm, kind and encouraging. I couldn’t have asked for more. On the other hand, having been through labour myself it has given me a new found empathy for the women in labour. I have a new appreciation of the physical impact of giving birth that is just impossible to imagine. It gives me a different perspective for my job, as I can put myself in the mother’s shoes.

I went through it all again with my second baby, and I wouldn’t have chosen to come anywhere else. From working here I know that Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea offers exceptional levels of care, safety and expertise to all pregnant women. And from personal experience, it’s really reassuring to know that I am in safe hands whilst my own choices for my birth will be respected as far as possible.

Our maternity and obstetrics services are the first in London to receive an ‘outstanding’ rating from the CQC. Our birth centre, labour ward and home birthing teams support growing families every day, from those with straightforward pregnancies to those with more complex needs. Find out more about what our maternity services have to offer, and self-refer quickly online.

Follow Suzy’s maternity journey on CBBC’s ‘Operation Ouch’ series 8, episode 3 and episode 5