Your labour

Where will my care be based?

As your pregnancy proceeds and you attend classes you will be considering where you would like to have your baby.  You should discuss this with your midwife and make plans. In your maternity notes there is a section for you to complete your 'Birth Plan'. A Birth plan is a record of what you like to happen during your labour and after the birth. Your birth plan is personal to you. It will depend on not only what you want, but also on your medical history, and your own circumstances.

When you have done this, please review with your midwife at your 36-week appointment. This discussion will help you decide where you may like to have your baby. The options are a homebirth or a hospital birth, either in our Birthing Unit or on the Labour Ward.

We also run a Home Birth Support Group on the third Wednesday of every month. Feel free to drop in at the Eileen Lecky Clinic, 2 Clarendon Drive, Putney, SW15 1AA from 6pm.


If you are healthy, are having an uncomplicated pregnancy and live in an area where we provide a community service, you may want to consider homebirth as an option.  If you give birth at home, you will be supported by a midwife, who will support you while you are in labour. If you need any help or your labour is not progressing as well as it should, your midwife will make arrangments for you to be transferred to hospital.

The advantages of giving birth at home include the following:

  • You can give birth in familiar surroundings where you may feel more relaxed and able to cope.
  • You don't have to interrupt your labour to go into hospital.
  • You will not need to leave your other children.
  • You will not have to be separated from your partner after the birth.
  • Homebirth has been shown to reduce the likelihood of interventions in healthy pregnancies.

Hospital birth

If you have chosen a hospital birth you may receive care on the Birthing Unit or on the Labour Ward. The Birthing Unit provides care to women who have had an uncomplicated pregnancy and wish to give birth naturally without the use of an epidural. Upright positions, moving around and the use of the birthing pool are encouraged. If you require an epidural during labour, you will transfer to the Labour Ward next door. Your midwife will be pleased to discuss these options with you.

If you have chosen a hospital birth you will need to make your own transport arrangements to get to the hospital.  Only in an emergency should you call a 999 ambulance. As this is an emergency the ambulance will take you to the nearest hospital which may not necessarily be Chelsea and Westminster.  Examples of emergencies are regular painful contractions before 36 weeks of pregnancy and any bleeding from your vagina.

Birthing Unit

Any woman who is low risk in their pregnancy, and is keen not to have an epidural will be offered a room in our birthing unit. If you are booked into the birthing unit when labour begins, or if you have any questions after you are 36 weeks pregnant and 'low risk' you can call 020 3315 1000 and ask for Bleep 8915—please be patient it can take several minutes to answer.

We have three large Birthing Unit rooms, two of which have access to a birthing pool. The Birthing Unit provides midwife-led care in individual rooms, complete with a bath or birthing pool, beanbags, subtle lighting and a relaxed atmosphere.

Women can be secure in the knowledge that, in the unlikely event of anything going wrong, they can be transferred to the nearby Labour Ward staffed by midwives, obstetricians, anaesthetists and paediatricians, and equipped with a full range of specialist facilties.

The advantages of giving birth at a birthing unit are that:

  • You can give birth in surroundings where you may feel more relaxed and able to cope with labour.
  • You have access to our birthing pools to support you during labour.
  • You will have access to our muli-track system which encourages pelvic floor relaxation and upright positions in labour, as well as birthing balls and birthing stools.
  • You will receive one to one care by a midwife when you are in established labour.
  • The atmosphere on the birthing unit is calm and provides the ambiance to promote normal birth.
  • We have aromatherapy treatments which can aide relaxation and enhance your contractions.

We also employ a team of doulas in ‘The Nest’. ‘Doula’ is a Greek word meaning ‘woman servant or caregiver’. It now refers to an experienced woman who offers emotional and practical support to a woman (or couple) before, during and after childbirth. Although we encourage you to spend the early stages of labour at home, ‘The Nest’ is available for some women in early labour where you will be supported by one of our doulas.

Labour Ward

Labour Ward is located on the third floor by Lift Bank C. Access to the ward is via the Maternity Reception.

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital aims to make labour and birth as private and special as possible, wherever you choose to give birth. The labour ward, which caters for women who need more support during birth, has 10 delivery rooms of which 2 have access to a birthing pool. All rooms have shared  ensuite facilities, bright, fresh décor, with dimmable lighting, to allow all women to experience a normal labour and birth as possible in a calmer and more comfortable atmosphere.

The advantages of giving birth in a hospital include the following:

  • You have direct access to obstetricians and anaethetists
  • You have one-to-one care from a midwife once in established labour
  • You will have access to mats, beanbags, birthing balls and birthing stools to make you more comfortable and keep you mobile in labour
  • You can access other specialist services such as epidurals for relief of pain


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