Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust scoop Midwifery Award for Promoting Normal Birth

25th Jan 2013

Left to Right – Cathy Warwick, RCM Chief Executive, Helen Giles, Serenity Manager, Dipa Patel, Vitabiotics representative, Kathryn Gutteridge, Consultant Midwife and Natasha Kaplinsky, Event Host.

Two Midwives from Sandwell and Birmingham NHS Trust have won one of the UK’s top midwifery prizes at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Annual Awards, the UK’s most prestigious midwifery awards, held in London on 24th January, 2013. Midwives Kathryn Gutteridge and Helen Giles claimed the RCM and Vitabiotics Award for Promoting Normal Birth.

The award was given for a novel approach to promoting normal birth, or a birth without medical intervention or pain relief.  Attending the ceremony was RCM’s Chief Executive Cathy Warwick and the celebrity and broadcaster Natasha Kaplinsky.

Serenity and Halcyon Birth Centre are midwife-led units for low risk women in Birmingham and Smethwick.  Building on the success of Serenity Birth Centre which opened in 2012; Halcyon was commissioned by Sandwell Primary Care Trust and was completed in the autumn of 2011.  The aim of the project has been to offer low-risk women and their families an environment that promotes normal birth outcomes. Using a model based upon celebrating birth and using the philosophy of ‘End of Life Care,’ the midwife-led service aims to keep the family together at all times.

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: “This award highlights the important, innovative and pioneering work being done by Kathryn and Helen.  I congratulate their perseverance and commitment to the profession. It is important for people to know that midwifery does not stand still. When midwives are given the resources, support and freedom to develop their work, the result is better services, better care and better outcomes for mothers, babies and their families.”

Commenting on the award, Trust Clinical Director for Maternity and Perinatal Medicine, Elaine Newell said: ‘We are delighted and incredibly proud to have been honoured with this award. This reflects the huge amount of work and commitment shown by the midwifery staff at City Hospital, who continue to work tirelessly to promote normal birth. Birth is such a special occasion and we are privileged to be able to share such a special time with women and their families.”

Consultant Midwife Kathryn Gutteridge added: “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 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.

“Whilst Smethwick-based Halcyon Birth Centre has more of the feel of a spa hotel than a typical labour ward, featuring three en-suite birthing rooms, each with a fixed, under-lit birth pool and a range of furniture and accessories designed to help labours go smoothly and safely. There is also a relaxing therapy treatment room, and each birthing room has access to the sensory garden for mums-to-be in need of fresh air.”

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