Norwich’s midwifery-led birthing unit celebrates first birthday

Midwives, mums, babies and toddlers came together at the weekend to mark a year since the opening of Norwich's birthing unit.

The midwifery-led birthing unit (MLBU) at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital opened its doors on August 8 last year, and during its first year there were 1,187 births.

On Saturday, 50 women who gave birth at the unit were invited together with their families to help celebrate its success.

The MLBU offers women who are healthy with a straight-forward pregnancy a more homely atmosphere in which to have a natural birth. The unit is on the hospital's Blakeney Ward and has four birthing rooms and three birthing pools. Approximately 50pc of women coming to the MLBU are opting to have a water birth and the majority of women are using water at some stage to help them manage their labours.

Emma Pye's 13-month-old son Austyn was the 12th baby to be born at the unit and she was able to use one of the birthing pools. The 32-year-old, from Hellesdon, said: 'I didn't want to be at home and so it was a good inbetween choice.

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'I felt totally confident throughout and it seemed really relaxing.'

Julie Mansfield, MLBU team leader, said: 'The unit is about supporting women to feel comfortable, because if you are relaxed you can labour better.

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'The success of the unit is also down to the team, who have taken great pride and ownership of it.

'It is very satisfying for them to help deliver babies naturally and the contribution and commitment they have shown to making it a success makes me very proud of them all.'

For Chelsea Walker, 21, from West Earlham, the MLBU proved to be a very good choice because after a relatively smooth birth for her son Rio, now three months old, she haemorrhaged and was able to be given swift medical treatment.

She said: 'It's more homely and they were a great team.'

The birthday party was held at William Fellowes Hall at the N&N and staff raised funds for the unit by selling homemade cakes, crafts and good as new baby and toddler clothes and toys. Pam Sizer, the midwifery manager of the MLBU, said the team was hoping to raise enough to buy some specialist birthing hoists.

She said: 'We are mindful in these financial times of how much it cost to set up the unit and so we are looking for other ways to buy equipment.

'In an ideal world we would love to have a sponsor to help us to buy some furniture, for example comfortable sofas which can then be used as beds after labour and chairs for partners to sit on.

'But they also have to meet health and safety and infection control standards so it isn't easy.'

Do you have a health story for the Evening News? Call reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email

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