A royal birth vs a regular birth: Just what's so special about the Lindo Wing?

How does a royal birth differ from a regular birth? [Photo: Getty]
How does a royal birth differ from a regular birth? [Photo: Getty]

We’re mere days away from the arrival of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge‘s third baby.

Last week, royal baby watch officially kicked off as press barriers were assembled outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital in London hinting at the imminent arrival of baby Cambridge.

It was believed that the Duchess of Cambridge was in favour if having a home birth for her third child, but the barriers suggest she will give birth in the same place she delivered Prince George and Princess Charlotte.

And if the Duchess does deliver her third baby at St Mary’s she will certainly be in good company as Amal Clooney had her twins there and Kate’s late mother-in-law Princess Diana chose the hospital for the delivery of both Princes Harry and William.

While giving birth in the Lindo wing is incredibly private (one mum who gave birth there said she “didn’t see or hear another patient for the entirety of [her] stay”), the privacy comes at a cost.

Lindo Wing mums need deep pockets

The Lindo Wing has three room types. A standard room will set you back £5,650 for the first 24 hours of a normal birth (and £1,030 every night thereafter) with the cost rising to £7,215 for a caesarean section.

A deluxe room is slightly bigger, costing £5,920 for a normal birth package and £7,375 for a caesarean.

And according to Liz Halliday, Deputy Head of Midwifery at Private Midwives, there are plenty of other points of difference between giving birth like a royal and a regular person.

Continuity of care

“It’s likely that The Duchess of Cambridge will have chosen a team of midwives and doctors that she knows from her previous births,” Liz Halliday explains.

According to The Mirror, the team for Kate’s previous pregnancies and births included two obstetricians, three midwives, three anaesthesiologists, four surgical staff members, two special care staffers, four paediatricians, one lab technician for blood tests, and three or four managers.

Liz says that the Duchess will likely have seen the same professionals at all her appointments.

“The research has shown this continuity of care model to be the safest for women and their babies,” she says. “It is a model we adopt at Private Midwives, but unfortunately is not readily available to most of the population through the NHS.”

According to People the team attending to the royals during the births of Prince George and Charlotte had to be on call for three months before the birth, which meant forgoing alcohol.

“You never know when you need to be called,” Dr Johanna Bray, an anaesthesiologist who was on call, told People. “If you are at a party, you need to have your car keys at the ready. No drinking!”

Another difference is the location of Kate’s appointments during her pregnancy. “It’s likely that the Duchess’ antenatal appointments will be held in her residence or in a place of her choosing. This means she will have had time to talk about her experiences and to discuss her birth plan in full.”

But it isn’t just royals who can benefit from the same continuity of care model as the Duchess. “Women wishing to avail of a continuity of care model in the comfort of their home may book a private midwife to care for them during their pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period,” advises Liz Halliday.

Prince William drove the Duchess of Cambridge home after the birth of Prince George [Photo: Getty]
Prince William drove the Duchess of Cambridge home after the birth of Prince George [Photo: Getty]

Getting to hospital

Many pregnant women will be driven to hospital when they start showing signs of labour and this is likely to be the case for the Duchess too. “If the Duchess is planning to attend St Mary’s hospital, it’s likely that she and Prince William will be driven and dropped off, as they were for the birth of baby George,” says Liz.

“It’s unlikely that they will call an ambulance unless a concern presents itself,” she adds.

That’s exactly what happened when Sophie, Countess of Wessex, collapsed at home a month before her due date in 2003, forcing her to travel to the nearest hospital by ambulance.

The delivery room

While most women who have babies in NHS hospitals have to make do with shared bathrooms, each room in the Lindo wing comes with a private ensuite (containing Elemis products), satellite TV, a radio, bedside phone, WiFi, a safe and a fridge. Nice!

“The Lindo Wing is described as comfortable but not luxurious, although it’s likely that a suite has been booked for the royal birth,” explains Liz Halliday.

And being able to pee privately isn’t the only plus point. “A chef, wine and champagne list, afternoon tea and a waiter will all be available – something that isn’t the norm for most of the population,” Liz Halliday adds.

Who will be there?

“The royal birth appears to be quite a busy affair, with several doctors in attendance along with two midwives. Prince William is expected to attend and a whole emergency team of specialists will be on stand-by, should they be required,” says Liz Halliday.

But that isn’t the same for a regular birth. “Research shows that a quiet room is beneficial to the labour and most women in the UK are simply attended by a midwife, with an on-call team ready if necessary,” she adds.

Liz says that even if the Duchess should choose to stay at home, it’s likely that the same team will attend, and the full equipment will have been installed. Interestingly, Princess Margaret had her C-Sections at home in the palace.

“Home birth midwives are highly trained in both supporting normal birth and managing emergency situations. They also carry a lot of equipment in case it’s needed but transfer to hospital may be necessary if concerns arise,” Liz explains.

How does a royal birth differ from a regular birth? [Photo: Getty]
How does a royal birth differ from a regular birth? [Photo: Getty]

Postnatal care

According to Liz Halliday the Duchess will likely leave the hospital within 24 hours of the royal birth, and postnatal care will be provided in her home, but this is similar to a regular birth.

“Most women in the UK will also leave the hospital within hours of birthing and should receive postnatal visits at home,” she says.

“However, I would imagine that the royal couple will receive longer appointments if they wish and may even have a midwife in attendance at their residence – an option that is also available to women who opt to invest in hiring a private midwife.”

The entire experience

Overall, we can expect the royal birth to be quite similar to the deliveries many women experience in the UK, perhaps minus the level of continuity of care, busy birthing room and of course slightly more palatial surroundings.

But while many new mums will want to pull up the drawbridge for a few days after birth, the Duchess will likely have to ship in her stylist and hairdresser to get her picture-ready for the first shots of mother and new baby.

And while we may envy her many things, being photographed mere hours after birth definitely isn’t one of them, glam squad or no glam squad.

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