Are royal baby media at the right hospital?

Last updated 09:35 19/07/2013
Reuters

With Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, expected to give birth any day, betting on the future royal’s name takes off.

News Anchor with NBC, Natalie Morales knits to pass the time outside the Lindo wing of St Mary's Hospital as the UK prepares for the birth of the first child of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
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STITCH IN TIME: News Anchor with NBC, Natalie Morales knits to pass the time outside the Lindo wing of St Mary's Hospital as the UK prepares for the birth of the first child of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

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It seems media camped out to cover the Britain's royal baby birth are getting paranoid that they might be at the wrong hospital.

World media have been waiting outside St Mary's Hospital in London for more than two weeks after officials said Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, would give birth there.

Now the Daily Telegraph in London is suggesting that the birth may now take place at Royal Berkshire Hospital, which is close to her parents' home west of London.

Royal sources have told the Daily Telegraph that Kate has, over the past few weeks, been spending time at both her Kensington Palace base and the Middleton family home, Bucklebury.

The Telegraph has said if she goes into labour while staying with her parents, the half-hour drive to the Royal Berkshire in Reading may be preferable to risking an 80km trip through the traffic to central London.

It has, however, been pointed out that Royal Berkshire does not offer the same luxury service available in St Mary's plush suites of the private Lindo Wing.

Some are convinced the royal due date has already passed, even though Buckingham Palace has not given an exact date. Many in the British media predicted the baby would be born last week and the prince himself is now on official leave.

The palace has said only that the Duchess is due to deliver the baby in "mid-July."

Experts say there's no reason to think that the baby is actually overdue; due dates are at best an educated guess and come with a margin of error of two to three weeks.

"The baby will come when he or she is ready," Janet Fyle, a midwife and professional policy adviser at Britain's Royal College of Midwives, said. She said the due date is calculated from the first day of the woman's last period. Then add seven days, plus nine months. "But nature is the primary determinant (of the due date) and we can't do anything to change that," Fyle said.

An ultrasound done around weeks 11 to 12 of the pregnancy can also give women a better idea of when exactly to get the nursery ready, she said. A head measurement at that point is a better indicator of age than later in pregnancy.

For healthy pregnant women, as the Duchess of Cambridge appears to be, Fyle said they shouldn't worry if they haven't given birth by their predicted due date. Many things can delay birth, including the baby's head being in the wrong spot. "It may just take the baby awhile to get into the right position before he or she is ready to come out," she said.

Normal pregnancies last about 40 weeks, though 3 to 12 percent of women in the UK go beyond that term. After 41 to 42 weeks, doctors may consider inducing labor. Doctors or midwives typically induce labor with medications or other methods; it may still take one to two days for contractions to start.

"There is a risk as the pregnancy goes on that the placenta may not work as well," said Dr Daghni Rajasingam, a spokeswoman for Britain's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. She said that could compromise the baby's growth and oxygen supply. For women who don't want to have an induced labour, even if they are beyond 40 weeks, Rajasingam said extra scans to monitor the baby's heartbeat and movement would be necessary.

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In Britain, about 25 per cent of all births are cesarean sections. In 2011, Britain's health watchdog decided women should be able to get a C-section on demand under the free health care service, though there is no indication whether the Duchess of Cambridge has requested one in the private wing of the hospital where she is expected to deliver.

Although the Duchess of Cambridge was hospitalised last December for severe morning sickness, Rajasingam said there's no reason to think she might have a more difficult labour. Pregnant women are also advised to keep as active as possible even after their due date passes.

Rajasingam also said women having their first baby, as in the case of the Duchess, typically have a longer pregnancy than with subsequent children, though scientists aren't exactly sure why. "It's like a racehorse on a track," she said. "For a horse that hasn't run the race before, it can take a little bit longer if you're not used to it," she said.

-Fairfax NZ and AP

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