As many wait impatiently for news of the Royal baby, it’s worth considering that Kate’s birth experience is unlikely to be typical. Certainly it is unlikely to mirror the many harrowing stories of birth injury or even death which medical negligence lawyers hear day in, day out.
The Duchess intends to have her baby in the private Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, where the world’s media have now been entrenched for weeks. Yet a report in The Telegraph this week suggests that the Duchess of Cambridge could yet give them the slip by giving birth in Reading. This is because the Duchess, who is thought to have passed her due date, has been staying with her parents in Bucklebury, Berks. So, a contingency plan for a birth at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, where she was born in 1982, is in place.
Of course this would raise the prospect of the Duchess spending her first night with her baby on a public ward, sharing with other mothers, as the hospital does not have a private maternity wing. The notion of the Duchess sharing a ward with other new mums, with the attendant lack of sleep and harried care, seems unlikely.
What’s more, Pippa Nightingale, head of midwifery at Imperial NHS Trust, London, has suggested that many pregnant women opt for Caesareans because “they are afraid of poor care” during natural birth. This is unlikely to be the case for Kate, although as things stand around one in four women in the UK has their baby delivered by surgery.
“As a midwife working in a busy hospital, I know that some request a planned Caesarean because of fears their care will not be good enough and concern they will not receive enough support during labour and delivery,” said Nightingale. About seven per cent of NHS surgical births – around 10,000 babies a year – follow a request from the mother for no medical reason.
What’s more, the UK was ranked 23rd, behind most of western Europe, in a global league table of the best and worst places in the world to give birth compiled by Save The Children earlier this year. For most expectant mothers in the UK, more so than Kate, birth experience is something of a lottery.