The RVI birthing centre has now been closed for several weeks, with no firm date for it to reopen, at least not one that is being shared publicly. Instead it is being assessed monthly, leaving parents uncertain about where they will have their babies.
When parents plan to use a midwifery-led birthing centre, they want care and support from midwives who specialise in labour and birth without interventions, in an environment which supports movement and birth without medication.
Of course, this will also be supported in the RVI delivery suite, but the environment may provide more challenges with fewer birth pools and medical looking rooms, which don’t have easy access to a toilet.
There is also the additional consideration of care after birth. In the birthing centre you can stay together as a family and continue to have more midwifery support with your new baby but moving to the maternity may mean you need to go to a postnatal ward after birth and that could mean that your partner has to go home at night.
The homebirth service has also been suspended
And this could be more challenging as families choose homebirths to have more control of their environment, to use water and to be in a familiar space.
I would recommend:
- arranging a personalised agreement with the RVI to provide you with additional support for the key elements of your care
- thinking about what you need for labour and birth and how this can be adapted for a birth in hospital
- looking into options for an independent midwife
I recently attended a birth at the RVI…
As a doula I work with parents in different hospitals and settings – my last client was due to use the RVI birthing centre but had to use the delivery suite.
Every midwife we worked with was fantastic, the room was changed to accommodate my client’s wishes and her birth plan was read and responded to. We received one-to-one midwifery care, including after the change of shift at 8am.
When we arrived the maternity unit was full so we needed to stay in the assessment area for a while – the room was small and hot but we dimmed the lights and got on with it as best we could.
When we moved through to the delivery suite, the lights had already been dimmed and there was a birth ball and a bean bag in the room and we asked for floor mats as well, which took a little while to arrive but we did get them.
My client was then able to be more comfortable in an upright, kneeling position, resting on the bean bag and a pile of pillows in-between her contractions. Our midwife worked with my client’s needs and there was no pressure with time.
The midwives were mindful of my client’s need to remain with her husband so they were not moved to the postnatal ward – labour and birth had been straightforward, mum and baby were both well so they were discharged home the same day.
The downsides for us were:
no access to water – there is only one birthing pool and this was being used and we were not in a room with a bath or shower.
no easy access to a toilet – we had to cross the corridor and use the loo in a shared ward
the rooms aren’t necessarily set up for positions and movement – we were in a ‘high risk’ room so the bed was the focal point but it was quickly adapted without fuss
The closure of the RVI birthing centre means that parents are feeling unprepared, so what can you do about it:
▪︎ use your relax & breathe skills to stay calm so you don’t feel overwhelmed or panicky
▪︎ make sure your birth room has birth balls, floor mats – you will probably have to ask for these
▪︎ find out what water options are available for you when you get to the maternity unit – pool, bath, shower
▪︎ remember, your need for movement, positions and a calm space can still be supported
▪︎ communicate your needs so your midwife can support you
▪︎ adapt your mindset – this is your labour and you need to focus on your contractions, on your body, on resting and being as comfortable as possible
▪︎ some parents are moving to a different maternity unit – locally there are a few potential options with NSECH in Cramlington, the QE in Gateshead and there are birthing centres in Hexham and South Shields
▪︎ hiring a birth doula can provide you with consistent support and reassurance so you can adapt
The closure of the RVI birthing centre is due to a complicated staffing issue.
This situation is far from ideal and maternity units across the country are under pressure and this reduction of services could be set to continue.
Now, more than ever, it makes a difference to prepare for labour beyond your ideal scenario so you have options, so you can be assertive and so
you can adapt.
If you are preparing for your baby, or you now have a baby, I am on hand for information, support and reassurance. Please do send me a message below and tell me more about what you need.
Please do get in touch with any questions.
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Copyright: Janine Smith