Duchess Meghan is pregnant!

The world was elated in October 2018 when news broke that Duchess Meghan and Prince Harry are expecting their firstborn this spring. While the United States (and the world) are enthralled with Meghan’s pregnancy, the American born Duchess may just prefer the state of prenatal care and labor and delivery in the U.K. over her native United States. That is because in the U.K. prenatal care is mostly done by midwives, whereas in the U.S. over 9% of prenatal care is done by doctors. And studies have shown that having a baby in the U.K. is safer than in the U.S.

The U.K. Mostly Uses Midwives

The predominant mode of prenatal and postnatal care is performed by midwives, not doctors. Many moms prefer midwives and having access to a supportive and experienced team of midwives enables new moms to adjust physically and emotionally to the stress that her body and mind have gone through, and continue to go through in the postpartum period. In addition, having support at home postpartum which midwives often do helps mothers cope with early discharges.

Shorter Hospital Stay and More Personal Care

On average, a new mom in the U.K. spends on average just 36 hours in the hospital after giving birth vaginally as opposed to the typical 48-hour hospital stay in the U.S. The U.K. actually has the shortest hospital stays in the world for new moms, and with good reason. The system in the U.K. allows for new moms to be cared for by midwives, stressing that “many safety issues could be missed if a midwife does not see the woman at home.”

If new moms go home too early (often due to lack of staff and beds) before doctors have the chance to thoroughly access the mom and baby complications can occur:

“Midwives need to check to make sure women feel up to going home. However, provided the woman is medically fine, has the support she needs at home and the right postnatal care plan in place, and a good community midwife service, then going home even five or six hours after birth may be absolutely fine.”

You may remember how quickly Duchess Kate Middleton was allowed to go home after giving birth (and all the hoopla surrounding it. Kate’s labor was relatively short, she had a vaginal delivery, and had no epidural or complications, which makes recovery time faster and easier.

In the U.S., going home so soon might be considered negligent, however, there is no routine follow-up postpartum other than the typical postpartum checkup, which is one short doctor visit that takes place six weeks later.

More Cost Effective Medical Care

Another reason for opting for midwives in the U.K. is simply cost. “American hospitals charged moms with employer-provided insurance about $32,000 on average for vaginal births and $51,000 for Cesarean deliveries.” Though partially covered by insurance, not every woman has health insurance or even a decent insurance that will pay the bulk of the bill. And there is no provision in the American health system to do home visits for mothers.

In stark contrast, Kate gave birth at the Lindo Wing at the NHS St. Mary’s Hospital and was given access to “state-of-the-art equipment, WiFi, modern decor, daily newspapers, meals prepared by on-site chefs and afternoon tea.” She essentially brought her home to the hospital, had a home delivery in the hospital with all emergency support if necessary, and then she was discharged seven hours later, and the cost of her calm, thorough, and peaceful delivery experience may just shock you. Duchess Kate’s hospital bill for firstborn George was just $15,000 even with the royal treatment and is presumed to be similar with this new baby as she opted for private care again, now for the third time. 

If Duchess Meghan opts for this type of care, it won’t be her royal status that affords her this perk; the National Health Service “provides free maternity care to U.K. residents who give birth in their hospital system, but all new moms also have the option of pursuing private care.” 

Perks of Midwifery Care

Keep in mind that choosing to be cared for by a midwife is perfectly safe when delivery takes place in a hospital. Home births are never safe.

Many midwives have privileges at hospitals with private wings and birthing rooms. Should any emergency interventions be needed, they are readily available. If labor stalls or if there is a cord prolapse, or the baby’s heartbeat declined, you can be given a cesarean section in a matter of minutes when you deliver in a fully equipped hospital, where there is already a team of professionals tending to you since early labor.

This way you get the expertise and surgical ability of a doctor along with the experience and support of a certified nurse midwife (not to mention an entire team of specialists just in case the baby or Mom needs it).

Read More:
Labor and Delivery Guide
Prenatal Care