Meghan Markle's obstetrician who helped deliver Lilibet shuts her practice with little notice telling patients she needs to 'focus on my own health and be with my family'

  • Dr Melissa Drake said she would close her Santa Barbara practice from June 30
  • She oversaw the birth of Lilibet at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital June last year
  • Writing in an emotional Instagram, said her work had been the 'honor of my life'
  • Santa Barbara women were taken by surprise over 'terrible' handling of closure

The obstetrician who helped deliver Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's second child Lilibet has shut her practice with little notice, telling patients she needs to 'focus on my own health and be with my family'. 

Dr Melissa Drake made the announcement on Instagram, where she said it had been 'the honor of my life to work with the women of Santa Barbara' before announcing a 'leave of absence' starting on June 30.

She said patients procedures or surgeries planned before June 30 would go ahead but warned pregnant women with appointments after the date would need to transfer care to a different practice.  

Dr Drake, who is married fertility doctor and has four step kids, oversaw the birth of Queen Elizabeth's 12th great-grandchild Lilibet at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital on June 4, 2021. 

Expectant mothers in the wealthy region were taken by surprise over the sudden closure, with one branding the news 'shocking and handled terribly'. 

'Now there are hundreds of women (myself included) running around trying to find care,' she wrote on the Santa Barbara Moms Facebook group. 

Another said she was 'devastated' by the news and that she knew at least ten other local women looking for a new practitioner. 

Dr Melissa Drake, the obstetrician who helped deliver Prince Harry and Meghan Markle 's second child Lilibet, has shut her practice with little notice, telling patients in an Instagram post that she needs to 'focus on my own health and be with my family'

Dr Melissa Drake, the obstetrician who helped deliver Prince Harry and Meghan Markle 's second child Lilibet, has shut her practice with little notice, telling patients in an Instagram post that she needs to 'focus on my own health and be with my family'

Dr Drake made the announcement on Instagram, where she said it had been 'the honor of my life to work with the women of Santa Barbara' before announcing a 'leave of absence' starting on June 30

Dr Drake made the announcement on Instagram, where she said it had been 'the honor of my life to work with the women of Santa Barbara' before announcing a 'leave of absence' starting on June 30

The obstetrician who helped deliver Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's second child Lilibet (pictured together, with first child Archie) has shut her practice with little notice, telling patients she needs to 'focus on my own health and be with my family'

The obstetrician who helped deliver Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's second child Lilibet (pictured together, with first child Archie) has shut her practice with little notice, telling patients she needs to 'focus on my own health and be with my family'

Dr Drake wrote on Instagram: 'It has been the honor of my life to work with the women of Santa Barbara. I am taking a leave of absence to focus on my own health and be with my family.

'It is important that you continue with appropriate medical care; therefore you should establish contact with another physician/midwife as soon as possible.

'Thank you for allowing me to be part of the most personal, profound, and important days of your lives. Much love always.'

Dr Drake made the announcement on May 13 saying the practice would close from June 30. 

Kay de Veer Ulanch, whose twins' birth was overseen by Dr Drake, told Santa Barbara Independent the doctor was a 'unicorn' and described the closure of the practice as 'a travesty'.

'She puts you in charge,' she said. 'You lead your birth experience. That's a big deal, and it's not common. 

'I know that sounds dramatic, but she's done so much good to so many families. When you're having a child, you want the best, and she's the best.

'I hope we figure out what's going on, and I hope she comes back.' 

Dr Drake (pictured) made the announcement on May 13 saying the practice would close from June 30

Dr Drake (pictured) made the announcement on May 13 saying the practice would close from June 30

Dr Drake said patients procedures or surgeries planned before June 30 would go ahead but warned pregnant women with appointments after the date would need to transfer care to a different practice (pictured, Dr Drake's practice in Santa Barbara)

Dr Drake said patients procedures or surgeries planned before June 30 would go ahead but warned pregnant women with appointments after the date would need to transfer care to a different practice (pictured, Dr Drake's practice in Santa Barbara)

Other patients said they were 'pretty devastated' by the news with Santa Barbara resident Jorden Hirsch saying it was a 'real loss for the community'.

Katherine Mueller said Dr Drake 'always made her patients feel comfortable, in control, and always gave them the right to say no.'

Dr Drake refused to give more information on her decision to close the clinic to the Santa Barbara Independent but said in a statement:  'One of my most important guiding principles is patient autonomy and giving power back to women.

'OB/GYN care represents an inflection point in peoples' lives. People who feel disempowered and disrespected during their birth experience carry that with them forever. 

'It impacts not only the way they feel as parents, but also impacts their future interactions with healthcare.'

She added: 'Ask any woman about their medical experience, and you will hear a lot about soft pressure.

'I try to let patients know that even if they are making a decision that I don't agree with, I will try to support them as best I can, within my ability to do so.'

Dr Drake declined to comment on why some patients call her a union, but said high praise for her was because 'it is very labor intensive.'  

'The healthcare system is not set up to reimburse providers for this kind of work… But we deserve this kind of care. We all do.'

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Meghan Markle's obstetrician who helped deliver Lilibet shuts her practice with little notice

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