The hospital offers en-suite private rooms, tailor-made meals and an on-call obstetrician 24/7

The Duchess of York, Victoria Beckham and Geri Halliwell have all given birth at the prestigious private Portland hospital in central London.

The hospital is largely considered one of the most luxurious, if that word can ever be synonymous with childbirth, and prestigious experiences for expectant parents – which can be very much explained by its hefty price tag.

So what can women expect when they fork out £30,000 to give birth? The Independent spoke to the people who work there about what really goes on. 

Mums-to-be can chose from a midwife-led or consultant-led maternity package, which start from £5,950 and can reach up to £8,900 depending on how early or late in the pregnancy the service is purchased. Every subsequent night that is spent in the hospital can cost up to £2,180 so the bill can end up well into the tens of thousands. When the hospital was featured on television last year (The BBC’s Five Star Babies) Chinese ‘it-girl’ Liu Hui said she expected to spend £30,000 on the whole experience.

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A room at The Portland (The Portland Hospital)

Michaela Paul, maternity services advisor, said the packages enable the mothers-to-be to have “flexibility and control over their pregnancy, choice of birth and birth plan, so they enjoy a truly individual experience”.

An individual experience might not be something that is naturally synonymous with childbirth given the standard procedure to having a baby but the midwife package – which can be started at 10, 20 or 30 weeks into the pregnancy – ensures that the midwives are available “24 hours a day for advice".

Dr Penelope Law, the consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist who is also the Countess of Bradford, is also on call 24/7.

“I do spend a good part of my week being on call for the NHS or The Portland patients - but most women will only call you directly if they are worried that something is not right,” she told The Independent. “ I share my on-call duty with other consultants so that in an emergency situation, a consultant is always available for a Portland patient. I am well known for inviting friends to dinner and then leaving for a delivery and asking them to finish the cooking.”

A myth long associated with private providers when it comes to childbirth is the “too posh to push” label. So just how many women do opt for a caesarean, Dr Law says it is a lot less than you think.

“Very few pregnant women I have met over the last 20 years request a C-section for their first child - probably less than one per cent,” she says. “This is most likely because women tend to associate a caesarean with surgery and a delayed recovery time, with restrictions on driving for some weeks. 

“I find more and more these days that women tend to know that severe pain does not have to be a feature of their labour, and in most cases their labour will not last more than 12 hours. Many women are even likely to be able to take their baby home in 24 hours if they are ready and wish to leave the hospital.”

Women who do request a c-section in their second pregnancy are most likely to do so because they had traumatic experiences with their first vaginal delivery or had to have a c-section the first time around, she says.

The birthing pool, which has witnessed a rise in NHS hospitals over the past decade, is frequently used at The Portland as is hypno-birthing and the offer of a doula – a type of birth companion who is there to encourage and support the women through pregnancy, labour and during the initial stages of motherhood.

With the stars flocking to give birth in the hospital, privacy measures can also be put in place if the patients wish. Ms Paul says they are able to ensure only those granted approved visitor status can access the maternity floor. There is also an “advanced security system” which comes in the form of an electronic bracelet given to both mother and baby, and applied at birth, so the bay’s location can be monitored the whole time they are at The Portland.

After the birth, the mothers do not share a maternity ward with other new mothers cooing over their new child or attempting a feed, as they all have their own private room which has an additional bed for the partner who has been having their hand squeezed throughout the labour. The rooms also come with private en suites as well as toiletries, dressing gowns and slippers.

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Michaela Paul, maternity services advisor, who also had her baby at The Portland (The Portland Hospital)

A physiotherapist will also visit the mother after birth to advise on “support and guidance… including information on suitable and required exercises following birth”.

After recovering from childbirth, patients at the hospital do not need to worry about having to eat the standard hospital food which, fairly or unfairly gets stigmatised with a poor reputation, as there is a stronghold team of 10 chefs dedicated to catering to the “individual needs” of the mothers.

“We offer an extensive choice within our menus which change seasonally,” head chef Sam Tadjadit explains. “All food is cooked to order taking into account individual dietary needs and our team of chefs are available to meet with women to discuss specific requirements. We are also able to cater for partners and visitors.”

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A midwife and new mother and baby at The Portland (The Portland Hospital)

So given the large price tag and string of benefits available with the package, will the hospital do just about anything to satisfy its patients?

“Our priority is always the safety and comfort of our patients, and while we try to accommodate the needs of every patient this is always within the bounds of what is clinically appropriate,” says Ms Paul.

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