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Midwife led birth unit

Our midwife led birth unit is staffed by dedicated midwives who support natural labour and birth. We believe that all women are unique and by understanding this we can support your birth preferences and individualise care to suit your needs.

Each of the four birthing rooms has the privacy of an en-suite shower room and two have fixed birthing pools. Each room has natural birthing aids including birthing stools, birthing balls, bean bags and floor mats to help you have an active mobile birth.  There are also double beds in three rooms to help you rest following the birth of your baby. 

Who can use the birth unit?

Pregnant women who have had a straight forward pregnancy with no medical problems and/or no problems in a previous pregnancy or labour can use the midwife led birth unit.

Where is the birth unit located?

The birth unit is situated alongside the delivery suite (labour ward) on the 2nd floor of the Cardigan wing (orange zone) at Southend University Hospital, Prittlewell Chase, Westcliff on Sea, Essex. SS0 0RY.

How can you book the birth unit?

If you would like to have your baby in the birth unit or would like more information, you should discuss your intentions with your community midwife.

How can you contact the birth unit?

If you believe you are in labour, please contact our labour assessment midwife on 01702 385261.  For general enquiries, please call the birth unit office on 01702 385260.

What else do you need to know? 

The midwife led birth unit provides women with a safe and caring environment to have a natural birth, with the security of knowing any medical assistance is nearby.  We offer an individualised approach for women with uncomplicated pregnancies, giving the opportunity to labour and give birth as you wish.  A midwife will be there to support you and keep you comfortable.  She will be able to suggest a variety of labour techniques suited to you, helping to make sure your experience is a positive one.

We encourage women to use upright positions in labour and have birthing balls, birth stools, floor mats and bean bags to assist this.  As well as waterbirths, we support hypnobirthing and other natural methods of pain relief to help you stay relaxed and calm during labour.  Entonox (gas and air) and pethidine is also available if needed.  Research has shown that women who choose to labour in a low risk area away from delivery suite require less analgesia in labour and are more likely to achieve a normal birth.  Women who labour in an upright position also have less fetal heart abnormalities and less interventions in labour. 

It may be important for you to note that epidurals will not be available at the midwife led birth unit.  If you wish to have an epidural once your labour has started, you will be transferred to the delivery suite.

A small percentage of women may experience difficulties during birth and so will be transferred to the delivery suite to be cared for by a consultant obstetrician. If your baby experiences any complications the neonatal team will also be available to help.

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