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Jan 21st 2013

Maternity Service up for National Award in Promoting Natural Birth

The midwife-led maternity service run by Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust has been shortlisted for a prestigious title at the Royal College of Midwives national awards.

Up for the ‘Promoting Natural Birth’ award, the midwife-led maternity team under the leadership of Consultant Midwife Kathryn Gutteridge, and Serenity Midwife Centre Manager Helen Giles, has created a midwife-led service under the ethos of ‘Your birth in Our Home’. They provide a wonderfully calm and relaxed environment for women to labour in, achieving the birth they desire, surrounded by the people they love.

Kathryn explained: “We are proud of our two midwife-led birth centres – Serenity at City Hospital and Halcyon in Smethwick, which offer women a safe place to give birth in, if they are assessed as ‘low-risk’. This means that a midwife has cared for the mother during her pregnancy and there have been no complications or medical problems.

“Our service is focussed on celebrating birth and aiming to keep the family together at all times. That is why our rooms are equipped with double beds so partners may stay after the birth for support when they are needed most.

“The Serenity Midwife-led Birth Centre at City Hospital opened in May 2010 and was specially designed to make mums feel comfortable and relaxed during labour. Full length photographs of bluebell woods, the Norfolk coastline, and woodlands on a crisp autumn morning adorn the walls in the beautifully appointed private rooms. Mood lighting creates an ambience that can be easily adjusted, and every room has facilities to provide a water birth if desired.

“Halcyon is the newest jewel in our crown, which opened in November 2011. A purpose-built unit, it incorporates everything a woman and her family might want during labour, with spa-like rooms opening onto a secluded patio garden, and a separate therapy room for relaxing treatments including reflexology and massage.

“All our midwives are trained to a high level to offer support, encouragement and care for women who have normal labours. This includes offering different ways to cope in labour such as using alternative positions, relaxations, water births and aromatherapy.

“Our birth centres offer environments that do not look or feel like a hospital, as staff are relaxed, mums can eat when they like and can usually go home within a few hours of giving birth.”

Currently there are around 1,500 natural births at Serenity and Halcyon annually, which is set to rise significantly as the UK is in the midst of a population boom.

Commenting on the shortlisting of SWBH NHS Trust midwife-led maternity service, Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, said: “This year we have had a record number of entries for our awards and the standard has been incredibly high, so I congratulate Kathryn and Helen and their team on getting this far, and wish them luck at the awards ceremony.

“It is so important that midwives and maternity services keep thinking about the services they offer and continue to innovate, as this team has done,  so that they can give the most up to date and beneficial care for women, their babies and their families.”

The RCM Annual Midwifery Awards reward the professional excellence, hard work and dedication of the UK’s midwives, and are unique in celebrating exceptional achievement across all levels of the profession.

Compared by Natasha Kaplinsky, the winners will receive their trophies in London on 24 January 2013.

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