Choosing where to give birth

Information to help you decide where you would like to give birth to your baby

Maternity services in the North Somerset and Bristol areas are provided by three NHS Trusts:

  • Weston Area Health NHS Trust
  • University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust
  • North Bristol NHS Trust

 

The places you can choose to have your baby are:

  • Your own home – all three Trusts provide a homebirth service
  • A free standing midwife-led unit, which is a midwife-led unit not in the same building as a consultant obstetric unit. These are
    • Ashcombe Birth Centre
    • Cossham Birth Centre
  • An alongside midwife-led unit, which is a midwife-led unit in the same building as a consultant obstetric unit. These are available at St Michael’s Hospital and Southmead Hospital. 
  • A consultant obstetric unit. These are available at St Michael’s Hospital and Southmead Hospital.

Click HERE to read more on where to have your baby.

 

It’s safer to have my baby in a consultant-led unit

 

This may be true for women with complicated pregnancies. However, if you are a healthy woman with an uncomplicated pregnancy you are more likely to have a normal birth and avoid interventions such as epidural, forceps, ventouse and caesarean, if you give birth in a midwife-led unit or at home.

 

A very large study looking at the outcomes of over 64500 women showed that for women who planned births in freestanding midwifery units, such as the Ashcombe Birth Centre, compared with birth in an obstetric unit there were no significant differences in adverse perinatal outcomes (Hollowell 2011). These include such as intrapartum stillbirth, early neonatal death, neonatal encephalopathy, meconium aspiration syndrome, and specified birth related injuries including brachial plexus injury.

 

For mothers having their first baby there is a slight increase in adverse perinatal outcomes if they plan a homebirth – just over 9 per 1000 births compared to just over 5 per 1000 births in an obstetric unit.

 

Hollowell J et al (2011) The Birthplace national prospective cohort study: perinatal and maternal outcomes by planned place of birth Birthplace in England research programme. Final report part 4. Available from https://www.npeu.ox.ac.uk/birthplace Accessed 15.08.2014

 

I should go to Bristol ‘just in case’

 

Emergency transfers in labour are very rare; the vast majority of transfers in labour are due to problems with progress in labour which is not an emergency. If you do need to transfer to a consultant unit an ambulance will be called and you will be accompanied by the midwife looking after you in labour.

 

Midwives working on the Ashcombe Birth Centre units are very experienced at supporting women in labour with mobility, positions, and other coping strategies to maximise the chance of having a normal birth.

 

The Midwives at the Ashcombe Birth Centre have regular updates on dealing with emergencies in labour, and are trained to UK Resuscitation Council standards for Newborn Life Support. 

 

It’s my first baby - I should be going to a consultant unit

 

If you have no medical or pregnancy problems the safest place for you to have your baby is in a midwife-led unit. You are most likely to avoid interventions such as epidural, forceps, ventouse and caesarean, and to have a normal birth if you give birth in a free standing midwife-led unit, such as the Ashcombe Birth Centre (Hollowell 2011).

 

There is no increase in adverse perinatal outcomes* if you give birth in a midwife-led unit. However, compared to an obstetric unit there is a slightly higher chance that if you plan a homebirth your baby will have an adverse perinatal outcome* - just over 9 babies per 1000 births for homebirth, compared to just over 5 per 1000 births in an obstetric unit.

 

*Adverse perinatal outcome includes intrapartum stillbirth, early neonatal death, neonatal encephalopathy, meconium aspiration syndrome, and specified birth related injuries including brachial plexus injury

 

Hollowell J et al (2011) The Birthplace national prospective cohort study: perinatal and maternal outcomes by planned place of birth Birthplace in England research programme. Final report part 4. Available from https://www.npeu.ox.ac.uk/birthplace Accessed 15.08.2014

 

I will get the same care at St Michael’s midwife-led unit

 

The alongside midwife-led unit at St Michael’s is staffed by 2 midwives, and has around 800 births per year. You will be expected to go home when your baby is just a few hours old unless you need to stay in hospital when you will be transferred to one of the busy postnatal wards.

 

Ashcombe Birth Centre is staffed by 2 Midwives and a Maternity Care Assistant, has around 250 births per year and provides relaxed postnatal care on the Birth Centre. Aromatherapy is also available for labour and postnatal care. You may also have a birth partner staying with you for the first night after birth in one of our comfortable en suit rooms. 

 

If I tear while having my baby I need to go to Bristol

 

Midwives at Ashcombe Birth Centre are able to suture the majority of perineal tears and episiotomies without the need to transfer to a consultant unit. If the tear is unusually severe and not suitable for a midwife to repair then a transfer will be necessary, and this will be in an ambulance accompanied by a midwife.