Supporting women during their labour

By Alison Dodds (Lead Midwife, Birthing Unit)—The maternity unit here at Chelsea and Westminster was recently awarded some money from the Department of Health’s, Improving Birthing Environments Fund. A portion of this money will go toward birthing pools in the new Midwifery Led Unit (MLU) which will be built during the coming year. The MLU will be a fully equipped facility catering to the needs of ‘low risk’ women in labour and will continue some of the developments that have recently been introduced in the current Birthing Unit.

Alison Dodds, Lead Midwife, Birthing Unit

7 March 2013

The maternity unit at Chelsea and Westminster was recently awarded some money from the Department of Health’s Improving Birthing Environments Fund. A portion of this money will go toward birthing pools in the new Midwifery-Led Unit (MLU) which will be built in the coming year. The MLU will be a fully equipped facility catering to the needs of ‘low risk’ women in labour and will continue some of the developments that have recently been introduced in the current Birthing Unit.

One of our recent projects, the first of its kind in the country, was to employ doulas to support women on the Birthing Unit. The word ‘Doula’ is a Greek word meaning ‘woman servant’ or ‘caregiver’. We have eight doulas—one doula on every shift covering 24 hours a day. Their role on the Birthing Unit includes offering emotional, practical, physical and informative support to a woman (or couple) during labour and following birth. They particularly focus on women during the early stages of labour in ‘The Nest’ which is a comfortable room equipped with sensory lighting, bean bags and music. Some of our doulas offer additional support such as reflexology, aromatherapy and massage.

Staff on the Birthing Unit are committed to promoting normality within midwifery, and are supported by the medical team. The majority of women who come to the Birthing Unit go on to have a natural birth (82% and 78% in January and February respectively). However, as with any Birthing Unit, we occasionally need to transfer our ladies to the Labour Ward for a number of reasons, mainly their decision to have an epidural during labour which we will continue to support. Our transfer rate is similar to national rates shown in the Birth Place Study Report in 2012.

We look forward to supporting many more women to have the birth they want with us, and we value your opinions and suggestions about facilities you would like to see in the future.

If you would like to consider coming to the Birthing Unit to have your baby, and your pregnancy has been uncomplicated, please speak to your midwife to discuss your options.

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