Giving birth is becoming a more relaxed experience for expectant mothers who are being given greater choice in how they deliver their babies thanks to a centre which is celebrating its six months anniversary.
The Waterlily Birth Centre, the £600,000 midwife-led unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, has welcomed more than 180 babies into the world since it first opened its doors on 21 December.
During this time, midwives have seen an increase in the number of water births along with rising satisfaction levels from the new mums and their partners, who are able to go home quicker.
Mothers are giving birth while moving as they wish, listening to music along with using the specially designed birthing pools in ambient rooms.
Delivery suite coordinator Catherine Weatherill is thrilled with the progress of Waterlily’s first six months.
She said: “I believe the Waterlily Centre has made a massive difference to women and their families along with the midwives. By creating a homely environment, it is giving women more choice and making labour an experience which is good for them.
“What is unique about a birthing centre is that it is not trying to be part of a hospital but more like a home. People don’t feel like they are in hospital, they don’t want to be a patient, which is important when we are talking about healthy women.
“We have received a lot of lovely comments from the mums and it makes it all worthwhile.”
The Waterlily Unit is made-up of three suites which are specially designed to give a home-from-home feel.
Two of the rooms are equipped with birthing pools while the third has a couch which is specially designed to make it more comfortable for pregnant women.
The unit also has Bluetooth settings along with mood lighting, which is aimed to help the birthing process.
Nearly half of the mothers who have chosen Waterlily have had water births and 85 new families were discharged early thanks to the different process.
Catherine, who has been a midwife for 15 years and joined the hospital last year, has seen the positive results.
She said: “The water helps mums to relax which means the labour hormones work better and they don’t feel as much pain. The buoyancy also helps as they can get into a position which is going to work better for them. Gas and air is available for mums in the pool. Water birth can also mean a shorter labour.
“People also labour better if the room is darker. If you have less external stimulus then the body is focused on labour and doing it better.
“The best bit for me is watching the amazement on the partner’s face as they see the baby for the first time.”
Waterlily is also close to the delivery suites and Castle Acre ward if there are any complications.
Mums who have used Waterlily are giving the unit a five star rating along with sharing the experiences with their friends.
Catherine said: “It is always a pleasure to read the positive feedback and it is nice to know that we are doing a good job as women are pleased with their experience.”
Among the many new mums who have had a wonderful birthing experience at Waterlily is Kim Campbell.
Kim and husband Mark had not planned to use the centre for the birth of their second son Luther but are pleased they did.
Mrs Campbell, who had given birth to older son Dexter in a different area, said: “It was the best experience of giving birth that I’ve had.
“It is a home from home environment but in hospital. It’s the best situation you could be in. It was very relaxed, we got to do things at our own pace and we could then spend time in the room with our little one. I wish it had been like that the first time I had given birth as we would have then had that special time together as a new family.”
Mrs Campbell had started off on the floor on a bean bag but then moved into the birthing pool and needed minimum pain relief.
She said: “Giving birth in the pool was a lot easier than lying on a bed. You feel weightless and you can position yourself to become comfortable. As you are under water, you don’t have the weight of the child impacting on you as it does in a bed.
“It also means a lot that my husband was involved. He got to experience the whole thing and was also where I needed him to be.”
Mrs Campbell also enjoyed another special experience of cutting the cord.
She said: “I wasn’t able to do that with my first son. The midwife handed me the scissors and I cut the cord.
“It was brilliant as I had full control. He was lying on my belly and I could feel when he was fully independent from me.”
Catherine Morgan, director of nursing, said: “Kim’s story is just one of many positive reports we are receiving from new mums and dads who have used the Waterlily Centre. We have strived to make the unit a ‘home from home’ environment and hearing Kim’s story has proved this.
“The unit forms part of our journey of improvement and being able to provide our expectant mothers more choice is a significant achievement for the Trust.”
Expectant mums are welcome to arrange an appointment to view the Waterlily Centre by calling 01553 214635 but are also advised to speak to their community midwife to check if the centre is suitable.