In praise of Homerton Hospital

‘Becoming a parent is like blowing up your entire life, and the baby is the best thing lying in the rubble’. So said Lorrie Moore in A Gate at the Stairs… or something along those lines. I would check, but I have a nine-week-old baby boy sleeping in my lap.

Anyway, the most exciting East London venue I’ve frequented lately has been Homerton Hospital.

I’d heard good things about Homerton’s maternity service – lower c-section rates than other London hospitals, fantastic midwives – and I had a good experience (although my expectations were fairly low, I just wanted to have a baby). I was pretty exhausted by the time I got let in – they don’t admit you to the Delivery Suite until you’re well on the way, a bit like trying to get into an exclusive Soho club, but midwives are on the phone to give advice, and in retrospect it’s best to stay at home for as long as you can – going to hospital won’t make automatically the baby arrive any faster.

When we arrived we thought we’d set off a fire alarm, as the room was filled with a low, steady siren. But we soon realised it was coming from a woman lying on the floor, supported by an array of mats, rugs and pillows that had evidently come from the two enormous suitcases her husband had hauled in. It was dead exciting, like an episode of One Born Every Minute, except live.

I started off in the new birthing centre, which is very nice: big rooms with en suite bathrooms and huge white bath tubs, gas and air freely available and a brand new reception area where you get welcomed by smiling staff like you’ve just checked in to the Hilton. We did a few laps of the hallways – there was a very hushed, snowy Sunday night atmosphere and the only other soul we saw was a Hasidic Jewish man, who was bent over a book and praying and rocking.

However, it quickly became apparent that my natural habitat was the labour ward, with its bleeping machines, hospital beds and powerful opiates. I have to say, the staff were brilliant, and very kind, and swift with pain relief, and compared to what I have heard about other London hospitals I think that is worth keeping in mind when choosing a maternity unit. Don’t be put off by the shabby entrance – you’ll get the same consultants here you’d meet at the Portland, without the 15K price tag (albeit with a few students trailing in their wake, as it’s a teaching hospital). If anyone has bothered to come back after such a long silence, thanks for reading, and come again soon.



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6 responses to “In praise of Homerton Hospital

  1. Oliver

    It”s very good to hear from you again. Congratulations and best wishes to your baby for a healthy and happy life. Glad you have felt well loooked after at the Homerton.

  2. Thanks Oliver – glad to see I still have a reader. And thank you for your congratulations. I should add that having a baby isn’t like blowing up your entire life, it just feels like it for the first six weeks or so. Then you realise that it’s pretty much the same, with a bit less sleep and a tiny person in your bed.

  3. I had my daughter at Homerton – glad to hear that there’s a new delivery suite and things seem to have got better since I wa sthere!

  4. Congratulations – but you were right, it is like blowing up your life, except you don’t really miss anything from the rubble. Seem to remember that gas and air is useless, epidurals are the thing to go for – I think I offered to marry the man who gave me mine…

    • So true Penny. Not only do you not missing anything, you can barely remember it. And yep epidurals are wonderful. Can you imagine how robust the egos of labour ward anaethetists must be? Women swooning over their arrival all day long…..

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