Birth StoriesNovember 11, 2019
Birth Story 1
Birth Story 1
We booked relatively late (the day before my due date!) but I am so relieved that we did. Hiring Leonie was by far the best decision we made; our son’s birth wouldn’t have been the incredible, stress-free experience it was without her.
After encountering some resistance to my birth plan from my community midwife. Leonie arranged to come for an initial chat very quickly and as soon as we met her we knew she was the midwife for us. She was completely supportive and understanding of my choices and was an immediate calming influence for me and my partner. From the beginning she went above and beyond what I expected from her.
On the day of our son’s birth, I woke up at 3am with slight twinges which ramped up a lot quicker than I ever imagined; going from an initial call to Leonie to let her know things has started at around 7:30am to a rather more frantic call about 30 minutes later as I had started to feel the urge to push. Despite being stuck in traffic on the way over, Leonie was the same calming force as ever, arranging an ambulance and coaching my partner through what he had to do in case they didn’t arrive in time. Luckily within ten minutes everyone had arrived and Leonie took charge, even calling ahead to the Birth Centre to request the pool be filled up as I was so far along.
When we arrived at the hospital Leonie offered support and guidance when we needed it, she took some incredible photos and wrote up my birth story as it happened, giving us some amazing memories. Immediately after the birth she was on hand to help with feeding and our son was having his first meal within the hour.
In the days and weeks after the birth her advice and support were just priceless. There are far too many examples to mention but no question we could come up with was too small, big, daft or complicated and she answered them all in her usual positive, encouraging, entertaining way.
Leonie will always have a special place in our hearts; we’re still in touch and my partner and I have already discussed getting her on retainer for baby number two!
Birth Story 2
Birth Story 2
Originally from the US, I am new to the NHS healthcare system and wanted an extra bit of security knowing I would have continuity in postnatal care with certified, experienced midwives.
I wasn’t planning on a home birth, but when Leonie came to the house to assess me I had moved through the first stage of labour much more quickly than anticipated and was fully dilated. Leonie made the call to stay home, and I must say I was relieved. I instinctively knew that things had moved quickly, and I was more comfortable being at home. Leonie brought in Tess to support, and they were both supported / shadowed by Ellie (a student midwife).
Throughout my labour, in the comfort of my own home, I had Leonie’s calm and confident voice informing me of every step, every decision. Ellie checked the baby’s heartbeat every few minutes, which felt reassuring. Tess was quietly in the corner giving soft words of encouragement, constantly scribbling notes and observations – I am really grateful for this detail when I went through the notes as it gave clarity and colour to an event which I want to remember forever (but which felt very hazy at the time!).
After a slow second stage, I was exhausted and was very close to being transferred into hospital. Knowing my wishes to avoid interventions and medicalised pain management, Leonie and Tess helped me into a new position using gravity to help things along. In the end, my husband sat on an antique chest at the end of our bed and held my entire body weight in a supported squat. Within minutes our son Charlie was born.
The midwives placed Charlie on my chest but acted swiftly when they realised he needed resuscitation breaths. In less than 2 minutes they had him squawking and back in my arms.
An ambulance transferred me, Charlie, and my husband to Kings, where the (NHS) midwife team met us. It all happened quite quickly from there - Leonie helped admit us and ensure continuity of care with the Kings midwife team. Ellie brought me my first cup of sugary tea (which tasted like ambrosia after the night I had just had!)
Without them, I honestly feel I would have had a much different birth experience. But thanks to Leonie, Tess, and Ellie, I look back on the birth of my first child feeling so empowered and so capable, supported by the three fairy godmothers who helped bring my son into the world.
The care I received had a more significant impact on my experience than anything else – more than any of my prenatal appointments, more than any of my other preparations. Your care made my birth experience everything I ever wanted it to be.
It was so helpful meeting Leonie and Tess before the birth. Their personable nature and helpful advice made it feel like we settled easily into a sense of familiarity, so that on the day of the birth I felt the real impact continuity of care can have on the birth experience.
I would recommend other women consider the benefits of having known Midwives present at their birth as well as to support antenatal care. I also had 6 weeks of postnatal care after the birth which gave me the confidence I needed as a new mother – I really looked forward to the midwife visits and was so reassured after each one
I underestimated how much of an impact the midwives would have on my actual birth experience; if we have more children, I could not imagine doing it without them.
Birth Story 3
Birth Story 3
Choosing private midwifery care was not a small financial decision for us, but when an unusual complication arose halfway through my pregnancy and our NHS obstetrician experience left a lot to be desired, we felt some extra support would mean a lot to us. We couldn’t have been more right. From the first appointment we felt assured, safe and excited again about our birth. It was an instant feeling of being in good hands - such a relief. Leonie and Tess went above and beyond anything we could have expected, researching my complication, liaising with many nhs staff, advocating for our wishes, and providing amazing support throughout my (very long) labour. In particular the postnatal care they gave us was invaluable and I am not sure how I would have managed without it. I felt supported and informed in all my decisions along the way. Ultimately they are the reason I avoided an unnecessary c-section. As a family we feel genuinely listened to and cared for - absolutely no regrets and we can highly recommend them.
Birth Story 4
Birth Story 4
Hi, my name is Kakra I am now 49 years old. When I was 41 I fell pregnant it was a surprise and a joy unfortunately I miscarried after about 8 weeks, the same happened again when I was 44. Due to my age and the diminishing quality of my eggs meant I had to go down the IVF root. This too was not easy I went through numerous cycles until eventually I fell pregnant at 48. So like many women I was appointed a midwife. My first appointment (12 weeks) with the midwife was data collecting my background and medical history. It was a long appointment and I was surprised that the midwife did not examine me since I had explained that I had fibroids and I was experiencing some pain.
My husband was concerned about this and went online and found ‘Your Neighbourhood Midwives’. We arranged an appointment and we met Leonie and Tess at our home.
Leonie and Tess outlined the service they provided all with a cup of tea and no rush. They were warm and friendly and enthusiastic about my pregnancy.
Over the next few months they helped me feel at ease with my pregnancy as I was a bit apprehensive due to the miscarriages. Leonie and Tess not only did home visits they chased up appointments and explained some of the medical jargon I was exposed to. They offered valuable advice on some of the difficulties I experienced in my pregnancy and they were always patient and reassuring.
During the birth couldn’t wish for more support they were brilliant guiding me through the labour and really advocating for me during the throws of the delivery. They even fed back to the hospital after the birth of my daughter.
Once Kadiatu was born Leonie and Tess continued to see us Again this was priceless, to be able to have healthcare professionals who were able to spend quality time with and who were genuinely making sure that I was ok and that Kadiatu was doing well. They supported me with breast feeding and recommended various activities and groups for new mums.
This was my first pregnancy and I don’t think I would have coped as well without ‘Your Neighbourhood Midwives’. I would highly recommend using their kind empathic patient empowering service to make your pregnancy less daunting but a wonderful experience. I salute and thank you ladies!
Birth Story 5
Birth Story 5
5 ½ years ago, I gave birth to my son after experiencing two miscarriages and being told I might not be able to carry a pregnancy to term. I was a nervous wreck throughout the entire pregnancy. When my son was diagnosed with a cleft lip late in the pregnancy and we were told he might have other birth defects as well, my anxiety increased. The NHS care I received throughout the pregnancy wasn’t terrible, but it was typical – there was very little continuity of care, I never felt like anyone was listening to my concerns or my wishes, and ultimately I allowed myself to be pushed into making decisions that weren’t right for me or my family out of fear. Instead of the natural birth in the birth centre that I had hoped for, I had an induction, leading to a very quick and traumatic hospital birth, a postpartum haemorrhage, and an awful postnatal period that had a negative impact on all 3 of us. I knew I never wanted to go through that again.
Four years later, my husband and I finally felt ready to think about trying for another baby. We had moved to a new area, and I felt sure that this time around things would be different. I managed to control my anxiety throughout the early stages of pregnancy, until I had my first visit with a consultant (necessary to due to some unusual, but fairly minor, health conditions) who refused to listen to my wishes and made me feel there was a reason to be fearful about this pregnancy and birth. I started feeling anxious again, and despite his assurances that this was a different hospital and the outcome would be different, it was all starting to feel very similar.
That was when I started looking into private midwifery care. I wanted continuity of care, from someone I chose, who knew me and understood what I wanted and needed. When difficult decisions needed to be made, I wanted advice from a professional I knew and whose opinion I could trust.
At first, I started to feel discouraged because there were no private hospitals in my area, and, as I didn’t want a home birth, I thought there was no other option. But then I found Tess and Leonie. I liked that they worked together as a team. When I met them, they were so kind and took the time to listen to my history, my fears, and my hopes for this pregnancy and birth.
At the beginning, my husband and I had our doubts about whether or not it was “worth it” to engage private midwives when I was still planning a birth in an NHS hospital or a birthing centre, but he said if it relieved my anxiety it would be money well spent. And it was. Leonie used her contacts at the hospital to get me an appointment with the consultant who I was originally supposed to see, and I was given approval to use the birthing centre.
When what should have been a simple check up at the MAU turned into a disaster, Leonie advocated for me and made the complaint that needed to be made but that I didn’t have the strength to do myself. When I needed to go in again later in the pregnancy, they took turns spending a whole Sunday with me in the hospital so I wouldn’t be alone while my husband took care of our son. Anytime I started feeling anxious again, they were always available on What’s App or by phone to give me reassurance. They made me believe that things would be different – and better – this time around. I was much more relaxed, and by the end of my pregnancy, was even looking forward to the birth.
In the end, this birth didn’t go as planned. My labour progressed very quickly, and I developed blurred vision which meant that upon arrival at the hospital, the birthing centre refused to admit me until I had been evaluated in the delivery suite. When Leonie and Tess realised how quickly things were progressing, they both jumped in their cars and raced to the hospital to make sure at least one of them would be present for the birth. In the end they both made it.
Even though it was nothing like I had planned, I felt unbelievably supported the entire time. I was barely able to speak by the time I got into a room, but we had discussed everything so well I was still able to tell the hospital midwife the most important details regarding how my health conditions would affect the birth and what she could do to help, as there was no time to read my notes or birth plan. Tess arrived first and I had my husband on one side and her on the other, both encouraging me. Leonie arrived shortly after and she worked with the hospital midwife to make sure everything was done according to the consultant’s directions and my wishes.
Thanks to Tess and Leonie, I felt much more present during this birth, and even though it was very quick, I didn’t go into shock the same way I did after the quick birth of my son.
Birth Story 6
Birth Story 6
My husband and I looked to employ independent midwives due to the lack of consistency of care offered by the NHS. We both felt it was absolutely critical to know and trust the people who would ultimately be at the birth of our baby. Sadly the NHS is unable to provide this consistency of care where we lived, and therefore we looked to Private Midwives.
Before committing to using Private Midwives we met with both Tess and Leonie to make sure we connected. We instantly warmed to them on our first meeting and immediately asked them to work with us and be our midwives for the lead up to the birth, the birth itself, and the postnatal care.
They are both incredibly kind, knowledgeable and always withhold any form of judgement on the type of birth you may or may not want.
Tess and Leonie came to us in the comfort of our own home for each appointment, and offered very flexible appointment times which was very helpful given my husband and I both work quite long hours. Each appointment we got to know them better, and built a very strong bond which was absolutely essential during what was quite a long and challenging labour.
Tess and Leonie created a WhatsApp group for us where my husband and I could contact them at any point, to ask any questions or any concerns we might have. They also said we could call them at any point. It was wonderfully reassuring to know we had support whenever we needed it, and they were always very quick at responding.
During the labour Tess and Leonie were absolutely amazing. Leonie came to our house at 1am and stayed with us at home until I was ready to head into hospital. Again, it was invaluable having her there to keep us calm, rub my back, and check my progress. She also reminded me of my hypnobirthing practices which was so helpful. So often you hear of people going into hospital too early only to be turned away.
During the labour they acted as my mouthpiece, as they knew exactly what I wanted during the birth. Their support was, once again, totally invaluable. Having people with you that you know and trust is very calming in quite a challenging situation.
The postnatal experience with them was also second to none, and they bonded with Betsy straight away.
The NHS only offered, in our area, one home visit and it was so lovely having Leonie and Tess come to us for regular postnatal appointments, especially when you are feeling exhausted and a little beaten up! They also offered to do and send off the heal prick test for our baby, I was apprehensive about going to a clinic for this, and Leonie therefore did it in the comfort of our own home and Betsy barely noticed!
I cannot recommend both Tess and Leonie more as simply wonderful midwives. They are extremely experienced, are always available for any concerns or queries you might have, and were perfect at taking my husband and I through our pregnancy/ birth and postnatal journey.
Birth Story 7
Birth Story 7
When I became pregnant with my second child, I knew very early on I wanted to have my baby at home. I’d had a really good experience with my first labour having completed a hypnobirthing course beforehand and laboured very well at home before transferring to hospital at 7cm and I felt confident that this time I could happily stay at home for the whole birth. My husband was not so sure but supported me in exploring the option with our hospital of choice; however, they were unable to facilitate a home birth as we were too far away from the hospital.
I still strongly felt having my baby at home was the right thing and became more anxious at the thought of going to hospital so decided to explore other options to help facilitate this. I also felt that having Private Midwives present whom we’d met prior to the birth would help reassure my husband about my birth plan as he still needed a bit of convincing on a home birth.
Enter Tess and Leonie: the minute I met them, I knew they were the Midwives I wanted present at the birth of our baby. They were immediately warm and open and put me straight at ease - hugely important qualities in Midwives! As they sat with us and chatted about possible options and birth plans, I knew they would respect our birth choices, and it really would be a choice, not a foregone conclusion bound by (sometimes arbitrary) hospital policies or just because it’s the “done thing”. They were both professional, experienced and knowledgable which really put my husband at ease enough for him to agree to a home birth - which says a lot!
We engaged Tess and Leonie relatively late in my pregnancy (around 32 weeks) but their prenatal care was personal and unhurried; two words I could not apply to my NHS appointments to date. Their tips on how to prepare for a home birth were really useful and helped make me feel confident and excited in the lead up towards my labour rather than nevous.
In the few days leading up to the birth I had a few twinges and knew I could always message them with questions for reassurance. Knowing they were on hand for support and any questions, however small, was hugely reassuring. Then, the day things finally started to happen, we kept them in the loop on the progress of my contractions and they arrived at exactly the right time - not so early they were hanging around but with enough time to check me over and get me in the pool for my son to arrive an hour after they did. They gently helped guide my husband and I through the labour without being at all intrusive. I feel truly blessed that I had the birth I wanted, exactly as planned.
Once our son arrived, Tess had the difficult job of telling us they suspected our son had been born with Down’s Syndrome and that we needed to transfer to hospital. I remember this moment with absolute clarity and I am so thankful it was Tess that delivered this difficult news to us and she did so in the most sensitive way. I now know a lot of families receiving the same post-birth diagnosis have it delivered in a far less sensitive way which can have a huge impact on families.
Once we transferred to hospital, we were very fortunate that Tess and Leonie continued their care to help support us with feeding challenges providing helpful advice, recommending lactation consultants and herbal remedies. Their support whilst we were in SCBU was invaluable and sometimes just having someone consistent to speak to rather than a different nurse every shift really helped. We were also hugely appreciative that they continued to support us until we were discharged and settled at home, beyond their original contracted term. I really feel they went above and beyond and that Midwifery is a true calling for them both.
Whilst we were thrown a few curve balls once our son arrived, I am to this day so thankful that we found Tess and Leonie to support us through the birth and then postnatally. Having had control over his birth and how we welcomed him into the world when everything else after that was completely unplanned means even more now and I would not hesitate in recommending Tess and Leonie as independent Midwives either at home or at hospital.
Melissa and John
Birth Story 8
Birth Story 8
We are a married, same sex couple originally from the US & Germany. Because Germany has such extensive postnatal care and even postnatal exercise classes - all fully funded by the German health system - we started researching and looking into options. If we wouldn’t’ve found Leonie and Tess, we probably would have tried a German online service instead. At the end of the day, we knew we needed to be able to rely on someone who was properly trained and knowledgeable to guide us as new-born parents rather than just Dr. Google.
While researching, we were concerned by both the brevity of care that was offered as well as - of course - the associated costs. But the saying “you can’t take it with you” has never been truer for us because the confidence and genuine ease which we were able to gain in those early days has continued to be invaluable as we move forward together as parents. Put simply, Leonie and Tess’s help was priceless.
What we liked about Leonie and Tess was their blend of knowledge and humour. They not only supported us in getting the “baby basics” right but also actively participated in our journey as new-born parents. As much as we were made vulnerable by our own experience, they shared their own lives with us to guide us along the way.
We chose Leonie and Tess not only because they are (of course) highly skilled, but also because of their humour, relatability and ability to guide us as a couple through a time of change I our lives.
We used Leonie and Tess’s postnatal service - but we have already agreed that we would use their services from the very beginning for any further pregnancies. After finally having successful IVF treatment and a very healthy pregnancy, we found ourselves somewhat unprepared for actual birth and the hurdles that were thrown at us (labour and birth took 3.5 days as we had a little “star gazer”). Coming home after a long, difficult birth, we were bruised, stressed and exhausted. Leonie and Tess’s care, extensive network and knowledge of the “ins and outs” of the NHS helped us to put ourselves back together and gain the confidence we needed to succeed as new parents to our adorable child as well as a couple. It was also great for us just to hear that we were doing a good job with our new baby.
Because of Leonie and Tess, I have been able to breastfeed. Ruth wouldn’t latch onto one breast in the beginning, but with patience and guidance by Leonie and Tess we finally got her to also drink from the “bad boob” with pride in any situation e.g. the pub , standing at a consulate counter, during her blessing on the beach, not to mention busses, planes and trains. With their guidance we also learned that it is okay to slow down and really listen to Ruth and to put her first. We had been a busy couple before and I think even now we would still be considered busy, hopefully but less so! They also set up a WhatsApp group specifically for us, so instead of using the internet for answers we texted them and always received fast, very helpful responses - which gave us great peace of mind.
We hired Leonie and Tess as service providers but by the end of our time together they have become part of our family.
Adding a new human to the family is something that most will go through as some time in our lives, but I think it is still almost always a very personal, unique and transformative experience. For us, having someone we really trust at our side who is certified and experienced took some of the fear, anxiety and uncertainty away. Leonie and Tess also eased our transition into becoming parents as well, taking care of our emotional wellbeing as well as ensuring a complete recovery from the strains of childbirth.
Birth Story 9
Birth Story 9
I was absolutely thrilled to discover there was such a thing as independent midwives! After having IVF I knew I wanted more of a personal approach to my pregnancy and birth. I arranged for an initial consultation to find out more about the packages they offer and how they work. I had such a good feeling about it we decided to go for it. I can honestly say it’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
Birth Story 10
Birth Story 10
If I'm honest, I booked private midwives because I was quite afraid of giving birth and I wanted to have as much control over the process as I could. With the help of Tess and Leonie, by the time I delivered my son, I was fully prepared, empowered and excited about it!
For Tess and Leonie, midwifery is a calling not a job. From beginning to end I felt their service was truly fantastic. They helped me through some of the more challenging aspects of my pregnancy - I wasn't an easy customer - and enabled us make the right decisions for our little family. Some of the things they won't advertise were the little things they did for us - the hilarious record of my son's birth (including when I shouted at doctors "we've got this" - which my son now has on a baby grow!), the pictures they took along the way and the emotional support afterwards (I was a crier!).
I didn't intend it but I ended up having a drug-free birth not because I was trying to be hardcore about it but because I genuinely felt in control and able to do it. Without the support of Tess and Leonie I am convinced I would have had many more interventions. I am so so happy to have met Tess and Leonie and cannot thank them enough for all they have done for us. I am thoroughly honoured to call them friends for life.
Birth Story 11
Birth Story 11
My partner and I were pregnant with our second child, and were planning a home birth with the NHS, when Covid-19 struck. Almost overnight all homebirths in our area were cancelled, and birth partners were being prevented from being with women in labour. We had previously had a home birth with our daughter and I knew this was what we wanted for the second time around. Plus I just didn’t want to be anywhere near a hospital during a pandemic! So we began to look at other options.
We contacted Your Neighbourhood Midwives in a bit of a panic, searching for someone to help. And we couldn’t have been in better hands. Leonie, who became our lead midwife, guided us through their service and we immediately realised this was exactly what we were looking for.
As it turned out our hospital reinstated home births just before I was due to give birth. But by this time we had received such fantastic care from Leonie that we didn’t consider transferring back.
I was able to have all my check-ups at home, face to face with an experienced midwife who took the time to get to know me, my partner and our wishes in detail. Worries that I had from my first labour were acknowledged and plans put in place to overcome these. Because of this the birth of our son was better than I could have hoped for.
The care after the birth was second to none. We encountered some problems with breastfeeding and Leonie helped us through - going far beyond the level of care and knowledge of feeding that I had previously experienced from the NHS. I am still exclusively breastfeeding at 12 weeks as a result.
Not only was the care we received excellent, but we were put in touch with a network of other practitioners in the area such as Lactation Consultants and Cranial Osteopaths who have helped us too.
My husband and I have said many times since our baby’s birth that hiring Leonie and Tess really was money well spent. We haven’t regretted the decision as it allowed us to have the birth we wanted for our son.
Birth Story 12
Birth Story 12
When we fell pregnant with our daughter (first baby) we looked into all the options available for childbirth in the UK. As we're both not from here (Dutch & Australian) we wanted to know what other options were there aside from NHS. I looked into private hospitals but my main worry was the lack of consistency of care with NHS and still with private hospitals. I came across private midwives online and it hit me 'this is what I want and need'. In the Netherlands, there's something called 'Kraamzorg' which is amazing post-natal care provided to all new families and I knew I definitely wanted help post-natally because we don't have any family here in London that would be able to help us. We reviewed all the packages on offer and decided, in the end, that we wanted the full service (prenatal, birth, and postnatal support).
I looked into various websites that offered private midwives for our area and came across Leonie & Tess. We set up a call and the rest is history. We agreed to meet up for a tea so we could see if we all clicked (because Leonie & Tess said this was important) and the click was there and I do agree that this is important. Your midwives will be helping you with one of the most important moments in your life and you'll be going through a lot of intimate things together so it's important you all get along with each other.
The whole experience was just so great with both Leonie and Tess. Leonie was my primary midwife but I also had appointments with Tess because they very much work as a team. We had a WhatsApp group and I really felt I could ask any question, any time. No question too silly or too personal, it was so helpful. Due to Covid-19 it was especially amazing to have this dedicated and personalised care. They guided us both through the pregnancy journey to ensure we felt prepared and would monitor everything so we felt in the safest hands. Due to Covid-19 Leonie could not stay at the hospital with us, but as part of my birth plan she did come to our house first to check me once I was in active labour and I think that was so great - I was always afraid of having contractions, going to hospital and being sent home but with Leonie checking on me I knew this wouldn't happen. The postnatal care is something I would recommend a million times to people (especially to first-time mums). I mean it's all so new and with the NHS you don't get much support so having Leonie come to our house every day for the first 4 days was amazing. She checked on my recovery post-birth, she closely checked the baby, we tackled things like breastfeeding, bathing, poos, wees - all of it every day and the support was just incredible. I seriously couldn't have done it without her! That first I was a mess and it's the hardest time to get the feeding right, baby back to birth weight, hormones all over the place etc. Leonie supported us every step along the way, helping Grant feed Fleur with a syringe or tube and checking on my body post-birth recovery as this was going through its own battle. I mean I won't share everything here but all I can say is 'I wouldn't have been able to do it without her' and I mean that. It was a lifesaver to have this support and I knew I could tackle all the challenges because of the support, love, care, knowledge and joy that Leonie (and Tess) bring to their job. There were tears and smiles every day and it was so special to have them part of the journey with us. So special that by the time it came to say goodbye, I was genuinely sad.
I couldn't recommend them enough and think private midwives are just incredible. It ensures you can have the birth experience you want and no matter what will happen (because we all know birth plans never go according to plan) you will have the continuity of quality care by Leonie & Tess. This will be constant, solid, knowledgeable, caring, loving, and fun and it will make it a journey you'll never forget. Thanks, Leonie & Tess!
Roz, Grant & Baby Fleur
Birth Story 13
Birth Story 13
After being confronted with the coronavirus pandemic in my third trimester of pregnancy and then hit with the reality that my dream home-birth, which we’d been planning since day one, was no longer a reality via the NHS, it suddenly felt that all our months of staying calm and feeling prepared were going out the window.
We desperately searched for other alternatives, to-ing and fro-ing between just giving up and trying to make peace with the idea of giving birth in hospital, and scouring through numerous websites for private midwives, hoping they could help us achieve the birth we’d planned. After some days of debating we finally agreed that we couldn’t put a price on giving our child her best possible entrance into the world, and talking to Leonie our minds were put at ease and the decision was cemented.
With only weeks to go before my due date, the girls were so accommodating and agreed on a mini plan for us to work with, something which other midwives we’d contacted had been hesitant to do as we were so late in the pregnancy.
From the first meeting with Leonie days later, we once again felt in control and calm about our upcoming birth, which I’m so happy to say couldn’t have gone more smoothly. We will forever be grateful to Leonie and Tess for guiding us through the process, for keeping us calm and for letting us do our thing as a couple, safe in the knowledge that they were right there with us when we needed them, with a confidence they project that can only come from extensive knowledge and experience.
As I write this in reflection, with my daughter lying on my chest, I can honestly say that choosing Leonie and Tess as our midwives was the best decision we could have made, and I am even grateful for the initial stress of our plans being overthrown as it meant we landed these two! The girls are gentle in approach, amazingly attentive and genuinely caring, and we are sure that without them our birth wouldn’t have been in any way such an amazing experience. I would recommend Tess and Leonie to anyone and everyone, especially if they are nervous about the idea of birth (and who isn’t, really?). The girls will make you feel comfortable and confident from the very beginning, and there really isn’t a better start than that!
Birth Story 14
Birth Story 14
Our baby was born at the peak of coronavirus first wave. We'd planned a home birth with Kings College Hospital. We looked for independent midwives when it was announced they were stopping this service when I was a week past my due date!
A number of people recommended Tess and Leonie to us and they didn't disappoint! They were so warm, reassuring and flexible with their service given how late in the day we came to them. They immediately made me feel relaxed in their care and some of the real positives were having a WhatsApp group so we could be in contact any time (especially reassuring for a first time mum) and lots of postnatal care and support with breastfeeding (great when NHS services were limited). They shared their extensive knowledge and expertise willingly but were always clear that everything was mine and my husband's choice. I'm so pleased we had their support at what was quite a difficult time to have a baby!
Birth Story 15
Birth Story 15
As an Anglo-German couple expecting our first child, all the stresses and uncertainties of venturing into the unknown were exacerbated by the fact that what little we knew, and what expectations we had, stemmed from two, often quite different, systems. And then there was COVID.
Happily, Eva’s German health insurers agreed to cover the cost of a private midwife (as they would have done a German one, were we having our baby in Germany) and, deprived of familial support and assistance due to COVID restrictions, we were able to seek out additional support which might otherwise not have been available to us.
Having researched a variety of available options in South London, we arranged to meet our two preferred midwife teams via Zoom. Having spoken with Tess and Leonie first we quickly cancelled the second appointment. Their warmth and enthusiasm immediately set us at ease (no mean feat given the strain our experiences with the NHS had put on our faith in British medicine) and brought a much-needed calm, reassurance and confidence to proceedings.
They quickly built up an understanding of our story and our birth preferences and were immediately adding value with their suggestions, even before we formally engaged them. With them in our corner, the challenge of having a first baby in the chaos of a global pandemic somehow came to feel not only possible, but maybe even manageable.
We met with them soon afterwards in our garden for a further discussion and then, when they determined that the pandemic was depriving us of full value from their services, offered up a bonus session to run through, and nail down, our birth plan (something, I’ll admit, Eva was having a bit of a battle to pin me down to).
Ultimately, much of that birth plan (the home birth, the birthing pool, minimal pain-relief) went out of the window when our large daughter was ultimately induced, but it was nonetheless a hugely beneficial exercise to have gone through as a couple and certainly gave me a lot of confidence to advocate for Eva as events unfolded at King’s.
While everyone we dealt with on the labour ward bolstered our faith in the NHS and our wider support network, after two days in post-natal (during which time fathers were only allowed on to the ward 14:00-20:00 due to COVID restrictions) that faith was in need of a further boost.
Tess arrived the morning after the girls came home for our first appointment and the highest compliment I can pay her is that it was like having a member of the family arrive (I’m thinking loving aunt, mother to an army of cousins, not awkward, hand-ringing bachelor uncle). As in the pre-natal period, her very presence brought with it a warmth and calm that (sleep-deprived or otherwise) I doubt we could have generated alone and she quickly set about boosting Eva’s morale after five day spell in hospital which resembled in no respects the plan we had settled on for our daughter’s birth.
The little hints, tips, reassurances and general friendly chatter through which Tess went about her work are too many to mention (although perhaps crossing South London to deliver us the right sort of cabbage (she’ll explain!) bears repeating as evidence of her dedication). When I worried that Eva was showing signs of post-natal depression, I had absolutely no reservations in discussing my concerns (in confidence) with Leonie and Tess who were able both to offer advice and to tackle Eva’s own perceptions of her experiences tactfully and positively. That is the crux of it – both Tess and Leonie were entirely dependable. We had huge confidence in them and, ultimately, they instilled in us, through the time we spent together, the perspective to realise that (whatever our doubts and perfectionist tendencies) we had done and were doing alright and the confidence that our nascent family could go it alone. That was a solid foundation on which to build and we would whole-heartedly recommend them to absolutely anyone (pandemic or no pandemic!). They’ve been very sorely missed since our last session!
Birth Story 16
Birth Story 16
I turned to independent midwifery as a first-time mum looking for extra support in the lead up to the birth of my daughter. As somehow who isn’t too crazy about hospitals, I was interested in exploring the possibility of a home birth, and as a Canadian in London without any family close by, I was also looking for extra support for the postnatal period. Above all, I was looking for continuity of care throughout, and it was clear after my first NHS appointments that the public service would not be able to provide this. My husband and I engaged Tess and Leonie in January, before we had even heard of coronavirus! As it turned out, the late stages of my pregnancy coincided with the first lockdown and we were so glad to have their support. I was able to continue with regular appointments at home, which provided much peace of mind and sense of normalcy at an otherwise stressful time.
My husband and I were impressed by their warmth from the beginning. Their close partnership also made me feel reassured that, even though Tess was taking the lead in my care, between them we would always have someone to call. I was most hesitant to go independent out of concern that NHS Doctors and Midwives would be uncomfortable or uncooperative with the situation. I felt encouraged that they had years of experience working for the NHS, and had also attended many births at Lewisham Hospital (my local) as private midwives. I also got the strong sense that Tess and Leonie shared my values about the birth and would help me to feel strong and confident through the process.
My pregnancy was relaxed and even enjoyable overall, despite the craziness of lockdown. Tess and Leonie visited regularly, were always ready to answer my questions on WhatsApp, and took phone calls at odd hours when I suspected something was wrong. They encouraged me to trust my instincts and coached me on advocating for myself.
In the end, a home birth was off the table for me for medical reasons, and the Birth Center at Lewisham were reluctant to take me on. Tess and Leonie helped arrange calls with various hospital personnel to see what could be done but in the end, with a baby more than two weeks overdue, I chose to be induced and eventually gave birth to my daughter via emergency C-section. When by chance Tess and Leonie needed to stay away and get tested for coronavirus, they drew on their network to have another wonderful midwife, Rene, who visited me at home in the first week. Breastfeeding support from all three women was indispensable which was incredibly helpful and reassuring to have them come by several times in the first few weeks to check on myself and my daughter.
I would have loved a home birth and can imagine that Tess and Leonie really shine when they are able to take women through the process from beginning to end. Although this didn’t happen for me, Tess and Leonie did their best to support me under the circumstance, going over and beyond with pre- and post-natal services. I looked forward to every visit and appreciated the extra time and effort they made for me in the weeks after the birth when I was struggling with the C-section blues. I would recommend these lovely women to anyone seeking a positive and personal birth experience, attended by midwives who take the time to know you and really care.
Birth Story 17
Birth Story 17
“I decided to explore options for hiring an independent midwife when I fell pregnant with my second child. My first birth experience had involved immediately going to the hospital the minute my waters broke and then a lot of medical procedures I just sort of went along with without really questioning. First they inserted a cannula in my arm and hooked me to an IV , then a heart rate monitor was strapped to me, followed by induction to speed up progress, and 17 hours later an emergency c section as neither me or the baby were very happy by this point. I also seemed to have had a number of internal exams to check progress and then I later found out this can increase infection risk of your waters have broken but no one mentioned that to me at the time.
I wanted something different this time - ideally I would have loved a home water birth. However my priority was also having someone to advocate for me if I ended up with a more complex birth again to avoid it being so much about being in hospital and having a series of medical interventions after another.
I found some recommendations for Leonie and Tess online and as soon as I met them in person we knew they were for us! They really took time to listen to my ideas for birth plan and nothing was dismissed as was the case with some of the hospital staff who I spoke to. I knew I would feel supported throughout the rest of the pregnancy and through the birth and they had an easy rapport with the whole family including our two year old son Zach who loved playing with Leonie’s medical kit!
In the midst of my pregnancy the first COVID lockdown came in as well which further cemented my desire to have a private midwife. I really wanted the option of staying at home for as much of the early labour as possible whilst having some medical support on hand.
My birth did not end up being straight forward as my waters broke early on before I was in established labour. However because of the support and knowledge of Leonie I agreed with the hospital that I would stay at home for as long as possible until I was either in established labour or 48 hours had passed by which time I would move straight to a planned c section.
I would not have had the confidence to do this on my own but Leonie helped ensure I had a proper risk based discussion with the hospital Consultant and Consultant Midwife.
As a result whilst this wasn’t my plan A, it was a great experience. I enjoyed my time in early labour at home being able to jump in and out of the bath tub and wear my own clothes and be around familiar surroundings.
After the elective c section I noticed I felt a lot better and stronger than with my first child.
Having Leonie visit for the post birth care was just wonderful. It was so nice not having to drag the baby across London to be weighed and for check ups and I got great hands on breastfeeding support in the comfort of my home! Support for weighing the baby and breastfeeding was very limited at the time due to the COVID restrictions so I was very grateful for this
We really had the best experience hiring Leonie and Tess and would totally recommend them to anyone looking for an independent private midwife.
Laura, David and Zach (age 2.5 years at the time)
Birth Story 18
Birth Story 18
Hello I am Lerryn. I was pregnant in the first lockdown with my son Ziggy, and when faced with my homebirth NHS midwife strongly advising me against a homebirth, despite having already had one. We employed an independent private midwife because my baby was due in the first lockdown and to be honest, everything looked so uncertain that I hired Tess and Leonie because it was the only way I could have a homebirth at the time. And because Tess and Leonie are GREAT. And Tess was my midwife in my first pregnancy when she worked for the NHS. Which made it all the more special.
The reason we chose Your Neighbourhood Midwives, well for one, my good friends Mum used to be Tess and Leonie’s colleague. So that knowledge made the decision easier to make. And I was /am very protective of women having the birth that they want. And something that having a private midwife gives you is consistency of care, so no matter what, those women are going to be the ones at your birth. And they have definitely definitely read your birth plan. Which, with NHS is not definite.
I genuinely feel emotional writing about Tess and Leonie. (and anything to do with birth for that matter). Tess supported me through bringing in two beautiful babies into the world. And especially Ziggy, where times were so unknown. And I worked really hard to remain calm when the world seemed to be in the midst of utter upheaval. And I just could not have done that without the security of the Independent midwives. I had my homebirth, and I laughed and cried and all the other private stuff in front of these two. They saw me at one of the most intense and raw moments of my life. And they continue to answer my WhatsApp texts to this day.
They gave me the confidence in my ability to birth my baby.
I had a homebirth that I feel really really proud of. And a little terror child as a product of it.
I would recommend them, for first time mums. Women in the pandemic, anyone having babies.
Birth Story 19
Birth Story 19
We are Abbie and James, we had Rory in 2018 and Leonie and Tess were our midwives for Zachary who was born in November 2020!
I found out I was pregnant with my second child at the end of February 2020: just before the pandemic hit. I knew I wanted a homebirth and was happy to find out my area of NHS offered a case loading team for this - however within a week of booking it was lockdown, and this team was disbanded due to covid. I was really disappointed to lose the promise of continuity of care, especially when I found out my next face to face appointment with a midwife wouldn't be until 24 weeks. Rory had arrived early at 36 weeks after a very quick labour. I found it quite traumatic, had done a lot of reflecting and my own research and I knew what I wanted to be different this time. Key for me was having someone that I knew and respected and that also knew me at the birth.
I had been considering a doula, I started looking into this and spoke to some wonderful women. However, my husband was less keen on having 'extra' people around and feeling like a spare part. I then found out from a friend that independent midwives were 'a thing' - I hadnt heard of them before. This seemed like a good solution as there would be no 'extra' bodies in the room and it would be intimate but would offer the level of relationship that would make me feel secure when birthing. We spoke to a few different midwives, but when we spoke to Tess and Leonie we both knew they were the ones for us.
The main thing which made us hesitant in hiring a private midwife was the cost. It is a large sum of money - however, investing in the birth of a child did feel like it wouldn't be wasteful! In addition, the value for money was UNPARALLELED. Tess and Leonie were available around the clock, for any concerns either tiny or huge, for light-hearted moments and to support us with bigger decisions and advocacy. They literally rode the rollercoaster with us for 5 months!
A secondary concern was that if we had to transfer into hospital whether we would receive poorer care as the hospital staff might think, "who's this princess swanning in with her own midwives?" Again, this was unfounded. They liaised directly and seamlessly with my NHS antenatal care and having worked in the area since qualifying know many of the hospital team. They helped organise for new-born checks to be done at home, and it was just so wonderful to have Tess with me when I did go in post birth to give a handover so I didn't have to speak!
We chose them because they were so caring and friendly, and the warm relationship they share between them is infectious and made us feel at ease. Tess and Leonie's personalities are completely different but complementary to each other. It felt like all bases were covered whether we wanted quiet, reflective, gentle hair stroking reassurance - or a firm, loud advocate (I'm not going to say who's who!) but both were so obviously experienced, passionate and knowledgeable we knew we would be properly looked after. They are woman centred, up to date with research and evidence and shared the same views with regards to the feminist aspects of pregnancy that we do so they were a perfect fit.
I also really liked that they came as a pair so there would be nobody unfamiliar to us at the birth, as some of the other midwives we spoke to worked 'alone' so we would have one private midwife we knew, and then a second who we probably wouldn't have met before would come to support.
A not minor consideration was that they really liked our dog, so we knew there would be no issues with him being around during appointments or the birth either!
When we booked them, I was just looking forward to having appointments at home; to having the reassurance they wouldn't be redeployed during the pandemic or cancel my home birth, and that they supported a natural, hypnobirthing birth and wouldn't try to get me to lie on my back (in fact they would categorically counter this!) or push interventions that I really didn't want.
They did meet these expectations, but they also brought so, so much more to our family. I had some unexpected complications during pregnancy that started before they officially 'took over' my care. They were there for me through that, seeking knowledge from their wider network, supporting me to advocate for myself and also just checking into see if I was ok - this was completely absent from any NHS care. ~
I really looked forward to our antenatal appointments for a chat, to put the world to rights and I loved how James and Rory (and Digby the dog) were included in these appointments, which were flexible, booked around us, and lasted as long as I needed them to.
The birth prep meeting was probably even more useful for my husband than me, and it meant we went through a clear birth plan together, so I didn't need to write one down or fight for it or justify it through policies and procedures. They were wholly supportive of all options, clearly going through benefit/risks of all alternatives, but never
Birth Story 20
Birth Story 20
In the summer of 2020, I fell pregnant. It was an amazing surprise, as my husband and I had been trying for over two years with no success. Knowing that this was a very special pregnancy - and given the fact that we were in the midst of a global pandemic - I knew I wanted an independent midwife to give me the attention and continuity of care I needed. As I read the glowing testimonials for Leonie and Tess, I knew that they would be a perfect fit.
I am an anxious person by nature, and because of my history of infertility, I felt as if I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. But throughout all of my pregnancy, Leonie and Tess were there to answer any and all of my questions, and remind me to breathe when I was “in my head” too much. They are incredibly thorough and made a point to get to know me and my husband. We always looked forward to their visits, as it felt like catching up with an old friend (who is an expert in everything pregnancy, birth, and babies!). Leonie and Tess know the NHS system incredibly well and they were able to advocate for me on a number of occasions during my pregnancy and birth.
I had a very difficult birth - an induction, followed by an unplanned cesarean and our son Teddy having to spend two weeks in the NICU. This would have brought me to my knees if I hadn’t had the unwavering support of Leonie and Tess. With a baby in special care, it’s easy to forget about looking after yourself. But Leonie and Tess were there to remind me to rest and recover so I could be the best version of myself for our baby. Once we brought Teddy home, Leonie and Tess helped us through a very challenging breastfeeding journey. I will never forget the compassion they showed me as we navigated feeding Teddy.
I would wholeheartedly recommend Leonie and Tess to anyone who wants excellent, nurturing maternity care.
Birth story 21
Birth story 21
I fell pregnant during the first pandemic, April 2020. I knew I wanted a home birth, and with everything looking so uncertain regarding NHS home births, a private midwife seemed like the sensible choice. I also was keen to know my midwife, and more importantly for them to get to know me, and wanted my birth to be very personal and intimate. NHS midwives work in teams so there was a chance I may have never met the woman birthing my child before labour, which I wasn't keen on.
After meeting Tess + Leonie I knew instantly that I wanted them to be part of my experience and bring my baby into the world. They were personable, caring, loving, super professional and obviously very experienced without being overly clinical. They care so much about a woman centred approach to birth, giving me all the info I needed to make informed decisions.
When my labour started they were always on the end of the phone. When my waters broke and I had meconium in them, Leonie came over right away to assess. Sadly, it meant I had to go to hospital and as it was at the height of the second wave, they weren't able to come with me. Even though they weren't there physically, they were very much there in spirit and I felt 100 times more confident armed with the info they gave me and knowing they were a phone call away. It was REALLY helpful being able to talk to them the day after the birth, telling me what Dr's should be doing, what I could ask for (get that catheter out of me please) and what I could expect. I am thankful for them every day, and can't wait to use them again in the future.
Birth story 22
Birth story 22
After discussing with a friend my difficult first birth and challenging introduction to parenthood she suggested I consider an independent midwife for my second. I felt that the inconsistent postnatal NHS care I'd received had exacerbated my breastfeeding challenges and only added to the general anxiety I was feeling at being a new mum. In contrast she had warm memories of her independent midwife experience - in fact she loved it. I was amazed at the contrast in which we both spoke of the care we'd received! She kindly put me in touch with a colleague of Leonie and Tess's who subsequently arranged an opportunity for my husband and I to meet them. I'm so glad we did!
Leonie and Tess are a very special team. They are warm, empathetic and fun to be around! Sometimes a bit of humour is just what you need! I really believe that they are the perfect team. I felt so supported from the pre-birth meetings right through to the birth and postnatal care. If I was to have another baby, I'd sign them up in a heartbeat.
After having a fairly negative first birth experience, I had the complete opposite with Leonie and Tess. I opted for a home-birth because I wanted to do things as differently as I could, and trusted the advice I was given. It was exactly the right option for me. In the lead up to the birth I became increasingly anxious but Leonie and Tess were there to give me hugs and reassure me (it really made all the difference). During the birth I felt safe and in control. They were there but in the background so I was able to listen to my body which I really appreciated. After the birth, they were always available on WhatsApp and I really looked forward to our face to face meetings over a cuppa. I knew that if I had any concerns that they were there to help me (this was a lifeline - no more scrolling Google at 3am!)
I honestly cannot recommend Leonie and Tess enough - they do such an amazing job and my husband and I feel very grateful that our paths were able to cross! They are total super heroes. I owe my happy memories to them