‘Serenity’ provides choice in childbirth

25th Feb 2016

CHILDBIRTH is such a life changing experience, it should be remembered with love and affection by every mum, says Consultant Midwife Kathryn Gutteridge.

Kathryn was speaking at Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust’s midwife-led unit ‘Serenity’ after meeting with BBC News Health Editor Hugh Pym, regarding the findings of a national Maternity Review published yesterday. She explained: “A woman should feel in control of her pregnancy and the birth of her baby, and a big part of this is the choice of where to give birth. There is no greater experience than for the woman to trust her body and she will usually only require interventions when absolutely necessary, which is where midwife-led care excels.

“Women have been giving birth since the dawn of mankind, so we know what we’re doing, and the majority of woman can have as normal a birth as possible within midwife-led units, where the focus is on the woman finding and following her rhythm.

“Even women who have had a complicated pregnancy or a difficult first birth, can sometimes safely give birth in a midwife-led unit, after a thorough assessment and managing those risks. The important thing for us is to ensure every mum has the choice of the birth she would like.”

Zoe Challenor (39), agrees. She said: “My second child Seren was born in Serenity last OcZoe and Serentober. I had a very difficult birth
with my first child when I had to have an emergency caesarean so when I was pregnant with my second child, I wanted to hear about other options at different hospital trusts. I did a lot of research, and after speaking with Kathryn at City Hospital, I decided to go for a water birth at home. It was such a beautiful experience and we nearly delivered Seren at home, but in the final stage of labour we had to go into the hospital to Serenity. But that did not ruin my experience at all. In fact, my midwife made me feel very comfortable and every one at the unit put such a faith in me to deliver my baby without intervention. We had Seren literally seconds after I got into the pool!

“I absolutely believe in the midwife-led unit as they just let things happen naturally and they don’t constantly talk about fears. They are so reassuring, they made me comfortable in a safe environment and that helped me enjoy the whole experience. I just want to say thank you to Serenity Unit for believing in me and having always been there for me and my family.”

Earlier this month Serenity won another accolade from the British Journal of Midwifery Innovation in Practice award, as the team received second place for their ceaseless work in offering expectant mothers more choices in childbirth. The award praised efforts to encourage mothers to have normal births after previous caesarean sections.

Women who have previous caesarean sections can sometimes be categorised as ‘high risk’ and therefore, some birth centres may not accept them to have normal births. However  Serenity Birth Unit have developed a pathway which some women find works for them.

Kathryn explained: “Our model offers a managed risk approach. All mothers are assessed on an individual basis to ensure they are suitable and each has their own care plan.

“It’s also a completely different environment at Serenity compared to a delivery suite. Women are not on a bed or monitors and are offered choices such as hypnobirthing, having low lighting and water births.

‘We aim to offer women continuity, where they will one-to-one midwifery care for the whole of their labour until so that there will be no interruption and the mothers do not have to take time to get to know new people. Our midwives prefer to work in this way so they can provide continuity to our new families.”

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