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Baby doctor to the stars delivers last newborn

PUBLISHED: 12:29 10 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:18 07 September 2010

Dr Yehudi Gordon, obstetrician to the stars

Dr Yehudi Gordon, obstetrician to the stars

© Nigel Sutton 17 Redington Rd,London,NW37QX. Phone 020 7794 3008. email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Sanchez Manning ALMOST three decades after Yehudi Gordon's controversial techniques made him the enfant terrible of obstetrics, the renowned baby doctor to the stars has delivered his last newborn. The 67-year-old obstetrician has called time on performin

Sanchez Manning

ALMOST three decades after Yehudi Gordon's controversial techniques made him the enfant terrible of obstetrics, the renowned baby doctor to the stars has delivered his last newborn.

The 67-year-old obstetrician has called time on performing deliveries at the pioneering birth centre he helped launch in St John's Wood to spend more time with his family.

Statements such as "natural birth is like the most unbelievable sexual experience" have earned Dr Gordon, who lives in Hampstead Garden Suburb, a reputation for having slightly outlandish views.

And when he first began championing his 'active birth movement' in the 1970s - advocating women be allowed to move around freely during childbirth - he received short shrift from his NHS colleagues.

But ironically many of his once rejected ideas have become commonplace in modern hospitals.

"I was a founder member of the active birth movement and I was one of the first people to use water births in this country," says Dr Gordon.

"But there was a backlash at the Royal Free and I resigned. They didn't want to change their procedures.

"They felt it was difficult if women weren't being controlled and I felt the opposite."

Undeterred, Dr Gordon moved on to his now famed birth unit, which initially opened at Garden Hospital in Hendon in 1980 before moving to St John and St Elizabeth Hospital on Grove End Road in 1991.

With its birthing pools, bean bags and informal approach, the centre quickly became popular with stars such as Sadie Frost, Emma Thompson, Kate Moss and the Hollywood actress Cate Blanchett.

"What appealed to a lot of them was that they were encouraged to enjoy the experience of giving birth, but if they needed an epidural or anaesthetic it was available," said Dr Gordon.

He attributes much of the centre's popularity to the hard work of his midwifery team, which he says is the best in the UK, if not Europe.

However, despite this acclaim and his celebrity following, Dr Gordon's career has not been all plain sailing.

Last year he was sued by a former patient, Elizabeth Hammond, for his failure to give her a caesarean section, which resulted in her son suffering severe brain damage.

But the incident has not caused the South African-born doctor to modify his approach or opinions on childbirth.

He is a strong believer that mothers should spend as much time as possible with their children in the first two years after birth - ideally in constant contact with them for up to 20 hours a day.

He also thinks the NHS should follow his centre's suit and provide postnatal care for mothers for at least nine months after they have given birth.

With this continuing desire to shape his profession, Dr Gordon has no plans to retire completely.

He will still be involved with his much beloved centre and has even set up another practice, Viveka, just streets away.

"As long as my health is ok I'll do what I can do, and if I feel like I'm not doing that, then I'll stop," he said.


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