New birthing unit for Norwich hospital

Plans have been approved to open a new �400,000 birthing unit that will deliver one-to-one midwifery-led care at a Norwich hospital.

The new four-room birthing unit is being created at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's Blakeney ward and is planned to be up and running in August.

The hospital currently provides a shared consultant and midwife service from its 12-bed delivery suite and a home birth service provided by the hospital's community midwives.

A rising birth rate in the area has seen the numbers of babies delivered by N&N staff go up from 4,855 in 2003-04 to 5,931 deliveries over the last year (2010-11).

The new birthing unit is designed to allow women with straightforward births to have a natural delivery in a more homely and less medical setting and will also take pressure off the very busy delivery suite.

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Head of midwifery Glynis Moore said: 'We are pleased we will be getting a new midwifery-led birthing unit. This will give women a greater choice of where to have their baby and the additional birthing rooms will enable easier access to the hospital for all women in labour.'

Midwifery-led birthing units are organised and managed by midwives and offer care throughout labour, birth and the immediate post delivery period. Around 20pc of all births can be undertaken in a midwifery-led birthing unit.

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The new birthing unit will have four en-suite birthing rooms and a birthing pool room. Building work is due to be completed by the end of July. An additional four midwives have been recruited to help staff the unit.

Norfolk's first midwifery-led birthing unit was opened earlier this month at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston.

The Dolphin Suite has three en-suite rooms, two of which have birthing pools, and emergency equipment has been cleverly hidden inside wall cupboards, so it can be quickly accessed but is not on display.

Midwifery-led birthing units are becoming a popular choice for mums-to-be who do not feel confident enough to opt for a home birth, but want a more relaxing and homely setting than a traditional hospital delivery suite.

The West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds opened its midwifery-led birthing unit at the end of last year.

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