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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 28 February 2021

What it’s like to give birth at the royal-favourite Portland Hospital: Afternoon tea, designer toiletries and football stars next door

As Princess Eugenie welcomes her first child at Portland Hospital, Dubai mother Katie Watson Grant shares her experience of giving birth at the London landmark

Dubai mother and businesswoman Katie Watson Grant welcomed her son, Rafferty, at London's Portland Hospital, where Princess Eugenie, Meghan Markle and Victoria Beckham have all given birth. Courtesy Katie Watson Grant
Dubai mother and businesswoman Katie Watson Grant welcomed her son, Rafferty, at London's Portland Hospital, where Princess Eugenie, Meghan Markle and Victoria Beckham have all given birth. Courtesy Katie Watson Grant

Meghan Markle, Jerry Hall and Victoria Beckham are just a few of the famous mothers who have given birth at London’s famed Portland Hospital. And this week, Princess Eugenie welcomed her first child, a baby boy, at the same hospital where she herself was born back in 1990.

With their list of notable births reading like a mix of the who’s who of British entertainment (Jack Whitehall and Romeo Beckham are baby alumni) and royals (Princess Beatrice and Archie Mountbatten-Windsor), the hospital’s world-famous reputation is the reason so many recognisable names choose to welcome their bundles of joy there.

It also doesn’t hurt that the private maternity hospital has all the trappings and trimmings you’d expect from a five-star hotel, including room service, concierges, oh, and newborn baby hairdressers – more on that later.

So, what’s it like to give birth where royals and A-listers also welcome their babies into the world?

‘Like a luxury spa’

Dubai mum-of-one, Katie Watson Grant, welcomed her son, Rafferty at Portland Hospital in 2018. Courtesy Katie Watson Grant
Dubai mum-of-one, Katie Watson Grant, welcomed her son, Rafferty, at Portland Hospital in 2018. Courtesy Katie Watson Grant

“It’s a very elevated experience,” says Dubai businesswoman Katie Watson Grant, who welcomed her son, Rafferty, now 2, at Portland Hospital in 2018.

“It has a really nice, luxury vibe so it’s rather like being at an upmarket spa as opposed to a hospital. There are candles in the waiting rooms and it’s very quiet and peaceful.”

Watson Grant, who lives in Jumeirah Park, is the owner of tablescaping business Lavender & May, and chose to give birth at Portland Hospital after her husband’s work meant leaving Dubai and moving temporarily back to the UK.

“I had friends who had given birth there and had had a great experience, but of course I was also aware that quite a few celebrities had given birth there, too,” she says. “Quite early on in my pregnancy I had a lot of complications, but the staff and consultants were so well-versed in all the issues I had. It was just the perfect fit, I felt so comfortable there.”

Afternoon tea at 3pm

Katie's husband, Lewis, who was able to stay and work from their room at the hospital thanks to a full-size bed and office area, carries Rafferty home. Courtesy Katie Watson Grant
Katie Watson Grand's husband, Lewis Grant, who was able to stay and work from their room at the hospital thanks to a full-size bed and office area, carries Rafferty home. Courtesy Katie Watson Grant

“On the tour, there were three or four different levels of rooms to choose from, and what is really nice is that your partner gets well looked after, too,” says Watson Grant, whose husband, Lewis Grant is in business development.

“You can choose to have a double bed or two singles, and they bring in the bed – an actual bed not a pull-out – for your partner each evening and make it up with Egyptian cotton sheets. In the morning, they come and take it away to give you more space.

“The room had plenty of wardrobe space, as well as a desk for work, which was useful as Lewis still had work to do, as I ended up being in hospital for eight days. There’s a sofa and a TV, and the bathroom is like a hotel bathroom, with designer toiletries.

“The food is amazing,” she adds. “You get a full room service menu serving restaurant-quality food, and it’s 24-hour service. There’s also a snack menu. There are full three-course meals, plus a drinks list, various teas and hot drinks, anything you could want. There’s also a separate menu for afternoon tea which is every day at 3pm – sandwiches, cakes, jam and clotted cream, everything, Plus, all dietary requirements are catered for, such as vegan, diabetic and halal. Apparently, they get a lot of clients from Dubai and the Middle East.”

One-on-one midwife and concierge service

Katie likened her experience at Portland Hospital as akin to staying at a luxury spa and five-star hotel, Courtesy Katie Watson Grant
Katie Watson Grant likened her experience at Portland Hospital as akin to staying at a luxury spa and five-star hotel, Courtesy Katie Watson Grant

One of the aspects Katie says she enjoyed the most was having the same midwife for the entire duration of her stay. With a host of complications that necessitated an elective caesarean, Watson Grant says having a familiar face around helped reduce anxiety around the birth.

“From the day we were shown to our room to the time we left, I had the same midwife the whole time,” she says.

Post-birth, mothers are taken to the recovery room where there are soothing candles and flowers, as well as something to eat and drink if they want.

“They brought in tea and toast, or you could have whatever you liked. After a couple of days of fasting, I really, really wanted a lobster roll, so we ordered it and the concierge service delivered it to the room.

“There are lots of extras you can add to your birthing package, such as having a photographer in the room to take photos. I was even told about one baby who got a haircut straight after being born as they were born with so much hair,” she says.

Adding that staff revealed Canadian crooner Michael Buble sang in the birthing room when his wife, Luisana Lopilato welcomed their third child there, Watson Grant had her own brush with a celebrity, revealing: “We had an England football player next door to us whose wife was giving birth.”

“The staff are really accommodating and they remember everything,” she says, “even down to how you take your tea. But what I liked the most is that there is a lot of focus on the well-being of the mother.”

Updated: February 10, 2021 07:17 PM

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