Anticipation is growing in the maternity unit at St. Peter’s Hospital, with the planned opening of a new purpose-built midwifery-led birthing centre by the end of 2013. “We are very excited about being able to give local women more choice over where to give birth” said Sandra Houston, Head of Midwifery at the Trust.
The new unit will provide a ‘home from home’ environment for women who have normal pregnancies and want to give birth in a less clinical setting. It will be completely separate to the labour ward, offering four rooms with a birthing pool in each, to help women relax and labour in water.
Said Sandra “It will be a lovely and relaxing environment for women, where they can move about freely during labour and have the option of labouring and giving birth in the pool. There will be lots of extras such as birthing balls and iPod docking stations so they can bring their own music.
“We want women to experience childbirth as naturally as possible whenever they can, and this new unit will help us to make that a reality for more women.”
The rooms will also each have a pull down double bed so families can snuggle up after the birth, and a small garden space outside. The unit will be run entirely by midwives, though help is on hand nearby in the main labour ward with full consultant cover if needed.
Women who do need more support can still have a natural birth experience on the labour ward, where there are also birthing pools and eight new birthing beds that can be set up in different ways to support women throughout labour. This means women can stay more upright and let gravity help them, with support to sit, kneel or stand more comfortably for longer periods.
And when things don’t go according to plan, St. Peter’s is the only hospital in the area offering the highest level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, for premature and very sick babies from 23 or 24 weeks. This is very reassuring for local women should their babies arrive early or need extra help during the first weeks of life.
The Trust has been investing in maternity services, increasing the number of midwives by ten, and recently benefited from an additional £150,000 funding for maternity services to improve women’s experience of childbirth. The money will be used to improve the communal area for new parents on Joan Booker, the post-natal ward.
Looking after you before the birth
Midwife Sarah Legg, Antenatal Care Team Leader, is giving Maynaga Ehathasan her antenatal check and listening to baby’s heartbeat, under the careful watch of husband Kandiah and 3 year old Rithish.
Maynaga is 30 weeks pregnant. She said “This is my third pregnancy and I’ve known midwife Sarah and Mr Bahmaie, my doctor, for five years now, so I feel very comfortable when I come to St. Peter’s. The midwives are all very friendly and it’s great because you don’t have to wait very long for your appointment – everything is done on time. My pregnancy is going fine and my two boys are really looking forward to having a baby sister!”
Helping you during and after birth
Tel Donaldson and husband Matt are being shown how to bath their new baby Kaianne by maternity assistant Jennifer Lewington (also pictured on the front cover). “I’m a teacher so I’m pretty confident looking after children,” said Tel, “but bathing a newborn felt very scary until Jenny showed me how to do it – she was great.”
“This was my first baby and I was lucky that I had a very natural birth and Kaianne popped out after only four hours in the delivery suite. During labour I stayed upright and was quite active so that gravity could help her out.
“During my whole stay in hospital I had fantastic support from all of the midwives and nursery nurses, as well as the doctors, who were really reassuring about Kaianne’s slightly low birth weight. The nursery nurses were wonderful at helping me with breastfeeding her.”
Helping you to care for your baby
It is two weeks after Jessica Lauchlan gave birth to baby Freddie, and midwife Louise Emmett is giving her some tips on looking after her baby, including how to take his temperature.
Jessica said: “I had my first baby at home with only the bath for comfort, so this time I knew I wanted a water birth without pain relief, and was over the moon when I arrived on the labour ward to find that a birthing pool was available.
The birth was a lovely, intimate experience – our midwife was always there when we needed her but most of the time she just kept an eye and let my partner Lawrence and myself get on with it. The water birth really was the most relaxed you can possibly be while giving birth!”
“Because my first birth happened at home in a rush, I was a little nervous this time but all of the midwives were so friendly and supportive, and really reassured me.”