a transatlantic mommy / mummy blog – my kids say "tomato" & "to-mah-to"

Review of The Kensington Wing, Private Maternity Ward at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital

So as you already know I’d decided to have the baby privately. To Americans reading this – this may seem an odd statement, so do please refer to my past post about this. In deciding to have the baby privately in London I had pretty much narrowed down my choices between the Portland Hospital and the Kensington Wing at Chelsea and Westminster. My Consultant would deliver at either.

I read as much info and talked to people who had been at both and for me the Kensington Wing won out due to it’s proximity and that they had a NICU and adult trauma center. I could be moved from private to NHS if an emergency merited. I had friends who’d been in the Kensington Wing, all of whom had a positive experience. Most private maternity wards and hospitals allow you to visit if you’re interested in seeing them before booking – you’ll generally need to call ahead though to book a tour.

When I first decided to go private (vs NHS) I was told to book my private place ASAP. For the Kensington Wing, they only have 16 rooms and can be booked up if you wait too long. They take the booking via your Consultant’s office. Mine delivered at both The Portland and Chelsea Westminster, Kensington Wing. I decided on the Kensington Wing as Chelsea Westminster is close to my home, has emergency care for both babies and mums. Further, I had friends who’d had positive experiences there.

When looking for more info and reviews, while I did find a few on Mumsnet.com I didn’t find as many as I’d like – as an info-mongering mum-to-be, so I decided to help others by writing about my personal experience there.

hallwayWhile we did have a c-section scheduled I ended up going in early for an emergency c-section. If you’d like the delivery details I’ve written of those previously. For this post we’ll continue on to the experience of the Kensington Wing. While vaginal deliveries do occur in the birthing rooms within the Kensington Wing (I’ve heard the birthing pool is lovely!) c-sections are performed outside of the wing in the surgery theater also used by non-private deliveries. You are wheeled on the gurney out of the wing and down the hall and back again. Not a huge deal as you’re generally more focused on baby in/out than who you might meet in the hallway. Further, its not a hall full of people but still worth noting.

When it comes to the rooms in the Kensington Ward itself, and the patient care – I found these to be very good.  Each of the rooms has windows, either facing outside, or the internal atrium and lavender walls. The rooms that face the internal atrium have baths with showers, seem a bit more spacious but require a sleeping cot to be brought in for husbands. The external facing rooms, while narrower – have built in murphy beds for hubs and only a shower not a bath.

I did have a Diva moment and ended up trying out both room types. As long as they aren’t full they are ok with asking for a room change (within reason of course.)


When I toured the ward before my stay I had liked the exterior facing rooms because of the sunlight. So, when I arrived on the ward I requested one of these rooms. Living nearby, city streetnoise doesn’t bother me and the windows are fairly thick so while there was some noise I didn’t hear it as I’m used to filtering it out. It was handy having the murphy bed (pull-down bed) for hubs and just having a c-section, the walk-in shower was much easier to navigate. It was a bit cramped for space with my hospital bed, baby bed one side and hubs bed on the other but we managed.


Layout of the Kensington Wing

Each room also had a chair, a small desk, flat-screen tv and fridge. They’ve replaced the usual tv remote with these mini remotes. I found this annoying as mine would stop working all the time, I’d ring the nurse and they seemed to be aware of the issue already as they’d often bring a larger remote to change or reset the tv then `i’d use my small one again until it would malfunction again. While they do provide meals, each room also has a mini-fridge for snacks or drinks. Mine in my first room wasn’t working. They kindly offered to keep my drinks and yogurt in the staff fridge, and that worked for about a day. I got tired of having to ring for someone to come, then me to ask them to go get a yogurt at 4am. It seemed like a really annoying thing for me to do to them, as if they didn’t have more pressing things to do – so I asked to move rooms, as most at that time were empty.

I decided to try out one of the internal rooms which faces the atrium. They wheeled in my bed while hubs and my Mum trailed with my stuff (and baby of course!) The room was larger, but being in there for just a few minutes I could already hear shouts and sounds echoing through the atrium. While perhaps the volume wasn’t as loud as street noise, for me – it wasn’t one I felt I could easily tune out, so quickly asked to be moved to another external facing room, this one with a working fridge. It was a total Diva moment – my entourage and I moving from room to room to room. Finally I settled in the room next to my original which was a bit disconcerting at first as it was the mirror opposite of my previous room.

In general the food was very good, someone would bring a menu in the morning so you could choose lunch and dinner etc. Having only stayed at hospitals in the US not UK I don’t have much to compare to here but I’d say the food was pretty good.

The midwives and other people there to care for patients in the ward were very kind and proficient. They were available when required but give you privacy and space to recuperate the rest of the time. That was the biggest difference between delivery in the US and UK. In the US it’s almost impossible to sleep in the hospital after delivery. While in the US you in general almost always automatically have a private room – which is not standard in the UK – in the US you are monitored and managed and interfered with on a regular basis.

I didn’t realize there would be this difference until after my first night stay. In the US there are constant noises – calls over the hallway speakers for Drs etc, beeps from machines, patient noises etc. The Kensington Wing was almost silent – only the very occasional faint baby cry.  In the US nurses come to check your blood pressure, blood oxygen etc every couple hours and if you’re sleeping, wake you up to do it. In the Kensington Wing, they tend to leave you alone at night unless you ask for assistance. No waking you up to monitor you, so you actually get to sleep in the hospital! While like the US they did try and get me up and moving soon after the c-section, I didn’t have to do the hallway laps, and breathing machine exercises that were required in the US following a c-section.

Assistance was on hand whenever I needed help for myself or baby. While they don’t have a nursery like in the US, they were available to take the baby for a bit if required, but as my husband was there, and it was so restful (unlike the US) there was no need to send the baby to the nursery or away to catch up on some sleep.

All in all – my experience was good. While the facilities are on-par or average for what’s expected in the US, the quality of care and service was tops for either US or UK. I’d highly recommend the Kensington Wing to other expectant Mums.

Here’s another review of The Kensington Wing

An American Girl in Chelsea – her review of the Kensington Wing and comparison to the Portland Hospital

and if you need more info or contact details of the Kensington Wing they are available on their website.

Feel free to share your experience or questions on the comments below.

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7 years ago 1 Comment Short URL

We moved to England and found Baby Jesus and the Easter Bunny!

Holidays are a strange bag. Whatever country you’re in – there are always going to be people who do/don’t celebrate the national holidays or even the holidays that you do.  While there are some holidays that are just plain different in the US vs UK (think Halloween and Boxing Day), surprisingly I’ve found it’s the ones that should be the same that are so different for me.

Having grown up in the U.S. I’m used to Christmas being more about Santa than baby Jesus. In fact – the older I got – the further secularized this holiday was. In the work world, any party that happens in December is called a Holiday Party, so as not to offend or alienate anyone. ( Although you can call it Merry Christmakwanzakah if you want to! ) Not so here in the U.K.  I was actually on the “Christmas Party Planning Committee,” and kept getting blank stares when I’d inadvertently say “Holiday Party.” I’ve been so well conditioned not to say it that it almost feels like nails on a chalkboard when I do so.

But this Christian Christmas Spirit was limited to the office – oh no. My 6yr old (then 5) for weeks kept mumbling about “Baby Jesus.” He’d repeat over and over “2,000 yrs ago Baby Jesus.” over and over and over for weeks. We asked him about it since it wasn’t something he’d picked up at home and he told us he learned it at school and he loved singing about Baby Jesus. {que surprised eye exchange between hubby and myself as we send our child to a non-denominational, private, International School} A few weeks later we attended his Nativity Pageant. Honestly, I have never seen or heard of one of those outside of an old book, or Catholic School in the U.S. In any case it was a simple but jazzy stage-show with Wise-Men wearing sunglasses and of course my little Angel, singing not just about Baby Jesus – but stars and other things while representing the nativity. (Now Baby Jesus is now referred to as Baby Cheeses in our house by the kids – thanks to Modern Family) The kids all enjoyed themselves tremendously – but it wasn’t about faith or religion, for them it was the dramatic experience that resonated with them.

Having been in the UK just over a year – we’ve gotten to experience Easter twice already. The first time I was wholly unprepared. A few days before school was out for Easter term break – buried in a school newsletter was a mention of the kids wearing Easter Bonnets to school. Easter Bonnets??? OMG What is that? I’ve never seen or heard of one in my life. My first thought was some type of Little House on the Prairie deal with lots of ribbons. What to do but look it up using Google image search and then check my findings with a few English Mums.

My son was delighted with his hat – and this year I was better prepared. It was a masterpiece of glue-gunnery! (cowboy hat + John Lewis Easter decorations = awesome!) He was so proud of his hat that he designed (and I glued, because it’s hot you know) that he insisted upon not just wearing it to school – but on the trip to the Grandparents house in Belgium for Easter holidays.

And when I say wear it – I mean it. We took the Eurostar and our train to Belgium was leaving about 3 minutes after a train headed to Paris – which was full of Japanese tour-group. 200 of whom, now have photos of my son posing or dancing in his Easter Bonnet as a little souvenir from their trip to London. 

I like these traditions. And to me that’s more of what they seem than an observance of faith.

I hope they don’t go away like they have done so in the U.S.  But, in a way I wouldn’t want this to be suddenly picked up on in the U.S. and forced on people to adopt – because frankly I think we’d do it wrong. I feel like we’d make it so much more complex than the simple thing it is currently – making it bigger and more “meaningful” and bringing more faith into it – or just the opposite – making it so politically correct so as not to offend anyone and it’s just not the same anymore.

Growing up in a very secular home (my Mom’s family is very Catholic my Dad’s Protestant – neither have been churchgoers since childhood, and I studied world religions and attending every type of service you can think of at one time or another but never found something that spoke to me.) and my husband having grown up Catholic and attending Catholic school his entire life – overloading on it so much so that he now doesn’t believe in any type of religion whatsoever- I like that my child is being exposed to different levels of faith of and belief. But although it’s touched his life, here in the U.K. I don’t feel it’s been done with the same pressure as we’ve experienced in the U.S. While overtly Politically Correct – it can be overwhelmingly “Faith-full” as well. Upon moving to new towns/jobs – we’ve often been asked as a first question and repeatedly if we’ve found our Church yet, which can be extremely off-putting even though it was meant well.

I look forward to seeing how religion, faith and spirituality are addressed, adopted or rejected as my children grow both from a U.S. and U.K. perspective – and the choices they make and the beliefs they’ll hold.


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8 years ago 4 Comments Short URL

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