New Midwifery Unit is a Great Success

Nearly 400 women have chosen to give birth in the new Alongside Midwifery Unit (AMU) at Forth Valley Royal Hospital since it opened just over a year ago.

The new midwife-led facility sits within the existing Women and Children’s Unit and offers more relaxed, comfortable surroundings for mums-to-be. It currently has three rooms, two of which are equipped with birthing pools. Over 80% of women who have their babies in the AMU choose to use water at some stage in their labour and over 30% choose to birth in the water. All three rooms aim to provide a more calming environment with specially commissioned artwork, soothing light displays which are projected onto the walls, TVs and relaxing music. They also have cube chairs, which convert to double beds for women to sleep on together with their partner, and a range of equipment which can be used during labour such as balls, mats and birth stools.

NHS Forth Valley Midwife, Jackie Rutherford, said the number of people opting to use the Alongside Maternity Unit accounted for 14% of all births in Forth Valley. She explained: “For us as midwives it’s about women’s journeys and it’s crucial to remember that this is one of the most important times in their life. We aim to support all women by providing safe compassionate care to ensure that their birth is a positive life changing experience.”

One of the latest arrivals to be born at the AMU was 6lb 12oz Aron. His Mum Louise Dawson decided to give birth in the AMU after she had phoned maternity triage the day before and was advised to take a bath to help ease her early labour pains. Louise said: “The bath took a lot of pressure off and when I came into hospital the next day I knew I wanted to use the birthing pool. You can alter the temperature of the water and it was really calming. I lay in the pool in semi-darkness for seven hours. I had candles on, the TV on and the projector which played a pattern on the wall.”

Her final stage of labour took just 15 minutes which Louise feels was amazing for a first time Mum. She explained: “It was such a relaxing and amazing environment to give birth in. I loved it and would one hundred percent encourage other women to think about using this fantastic facility.”

NHS Forth Valley is one of five NHS Boards in Scotland which were selected to take forward the early implementation of recommendations in The Best Start, Scotland’s national strategy for maternity and neonatal care.

As well as the development of an AMU, a new transitional care service is now in place which allows some babies who require increased nursing and monitoring to stay with their mother in the postnatal ward rather than having to be transferred to the Neonatal Unit.

Last year just over 3,000 babies were born at Forth Valley Royal Hospital where the Women and Children’s Unit holds a Unicef Baby Friendly Award. The Baby Friendly Initiative is a worldwide programme administered by Unicef and the World Health Organisation, which was introduced to address a global decline in breastfeeding. Forth Valley Royal Hospital was first awarded full accreditation in 2012 and has retained it since.