Nearly 30 pregnant women have been left in a “panic-stricken limbo” after discovering they would not be able to give birth privately.

Many mothers-to-be discovered that they would not be able to have their babies at under private care at Watford General Hospital after a link was posted on social networking site Facebook yesterday.

The decision to suspend births was made by the hospital after a Care Quality Commission inspection and affects 27 mothers who are due to give birth after May 1.

Jenna Christoforou, 30, is nearly 37 weeks pregnant with her first baby and is due on May 16.

She said: “My birthing plan is up in the air and it’s scary. It’s really putting me in a nervous position and stress isn’t what you need when you’ve got three weeks to go.

“I am panic stricken and in limbo. It’s the not knowing what’s going to happen. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do instead yet, I’m still indecisive.

“I don’t know what the chances of this changing are but I’m desperate for it to happen.”

The mothers who paid for their baby’s birth up front were all reimbursed as soon as the news broke via a statement on West Herts Hospital NHS Trust’s website and went viral on Facebook.

They feel they have not been given adequate warning to make alternative arrangements.

Lauren Latner is 36 weeks pregnant with her second baby and is due to give birth by a caesarean section on May 8, but will now have to be seen under the National Health Service.

The 34-year-old, whose son, four-year-old Sammy, was born privately at Watford General, said: “I feel absolutely devastated, apprehensive, anxious and nervous.

“I am going to stay at Watford and hope that I am fortunate enough to get the doctor I had been willing to pay for, but that’s no guarantee anymore.

“What am I going to do? It’s a stressful time for me as it is and this has just added to that.”

She has started a petition calling for West Hertfordshire Hospital to reverse the decision to close the unit, which has been signed by 163 people.

Debra Rosen, who lives in Shenley, fell pregnant after years of being told she could not bear children due to endometriosis.

The 40-year-old is due 21 weeks pregnant and is due in August.

She said: “For me, having a consultant-led pregnancy and delivery is important. Due to my age and the complications and everything I’ve been through, I didn’t want to take chances.

“I have been crying most of the morning. I am completely devastated by this – it’s a disgusting situation to put mothers in.

“I found out on Facebook. I just couldn’t believe it.”

Professor Tracey Carter, chief nurse, said: “We were pleased to welcome the Care Quality Commission (CQC) into our hospitals last week for their planned inspection.

“In line with their process, the CQC will issue a formal report of their visit within the next couple of months and we will respond to their findings at that time.

“As is common with visits of this type, the CQC team has given us some immediate feedback and, as a result, we have made changes to the way we do some things. “We have also chosen to suspend our small private obstetric service – allowing our maternity team to focus on our NHS patients.

“Women who are due to give birth up until May 1 will be able to use the private service. After that time, they will be offered the opportunity to give birth with us as an NHS patient or as a private patient at another hospital.

“We are in the process of contacting the 27 women who are due to give birth in the months following May 1 to discuss the above arrangements with them and, as appropriate, to refund any payments they have made to the hospital. “We will also apologise for the inconvenience caused as a result.”

Mothers who have questions about the changes can call 01923 436 177 or 01923 436 774.