New Alongside Birthing Suite in Leeds

The choices for birthing in Leeds have opened up to more appealing options as I discovered in my role as Chair of the Maternity Voices Partnerships (MVP) at Women’s Health Matters.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has opened its doors to the new Alongside Midwifery Led unit (AMU) at the LGI. Friday 3 May 2019 saw the official opening and naming ceremony of the newly furbished ‘Lotus Alongside Midwifery Led Unit’. Situated towards the end of the delivery suite (L44) the doors of the new birthing suite stand to welcome in pregnant ladies and their families to give birth in a less medical environment. The AMU is a birthing centre for pregnant women who are ‘low risk’ who wish to give birth in a home from home environment, but can be physically transferred for intervention if they need an epidural or obstetric care.

The prestigious event was  opened by Deputy Chief Nurse Dawn Marshall and attended by midwives, consultants and parent reps from the MVP. A Midwifery Led care means instead of seeing other clinician’s busying about, it is only your named midwife being present offering care and support. After giving birth women and families can leave straight from the room, so they don’t need to get moved to Postnatal wards, the checks before home are done straight from the room you gave birth in. The space on the delivery ward had always been there but the double doors separating two areas of the floor signify two different practices and caring labour services.

I spoke to Team Leader Home Birth Midwife Naomi Robinson and Matron Vicky Brooksbank.

“The planning of the AMU has been in the pipeline for a couple of years now, and when funding came through last March (2018) it was the green light to prepare for the building work.”

They worked alongside staff and the homebirth support group to research different regional AMU’s to see what kind of active birthing equipment worked the best between women and staff. Vicky reassures us that they are willing to be flexible and learn to listen to women’s wishes and look out for what works best between families and staff to make sure this resource is fully utilised.

The Maternity Voices Partnership parent reps and practising Doula’s Claire Licence, Nicki Collins and myself decided to have a look round the three birthing rooms; all with low lighting, calming colours and birth pools. There are a couple of medical reminders including the free standing K2 electronic screen notes system and the Entinox (gas and air). Nicki Collins and Claire Licence agreed that the long awaited birth unit is a great way to raise awareness in active birth and test drive some of the equipment. Nicki commented on the space and says;

“By not having a bed in the middle of the room, makes it so much easier to move around and help the flow of the birth.”

Naomi Robinson, Home Birth team leader says this is a great way to promote home birth. If a woman leans towards a Home Birth but is unsure, it’s a great first time try out of this method.

Later in the morning we were greeted by Tom Everett, Clinical Lead and Johnathan Nelson, Consultant Obstetrician. They added their approval saying that this is going to be a great space in that they can:

“Reassure women that this is the right place for them coming through clinic.”

What about if you choose to birth at St James’s? Don’t worry there are still some wonderful low risk active birth rooms on the delivery suite there too, even though there’s no doors to separate the area. Leeds Trust are making sure they are working towards a midwifery led ethos across the estate. Women can find out more about booking this on this link.