Ribble Valley mum welcomes state-of-the-art birthing centre

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Parents-to-be in the Ribble Valley are being urged to take full advantage of one of the most state-of-the-art birthing facilities in the country.

Blackburn Birthing Centre’s lead midwife, Caroline Broome, has concerns would-be mums and dads are not aware of the benefits of the centre’s forward-thinking approach.

The centre, which opened in September, was designed to offer a new level of choice to mothers-to-be in East Lancashire, centred around a more holistic and family-focused approach.

Caroline said: “We have seen a big change in attitude to giving birth over recent years.

“For the vast majority, the process of labour is a natural experience and the body takes over to do the job it was made for.

“Here at the centre, we aim to try to work with low-risk women and make the experience of giving birth the most positive it can be, taking things at a natural pace, with as little intervention as possible, helping women to use their bodies and learn how to work with it to deliver their babies.”

The new £32m. Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre, based at Burnley General Hospital, is nearing the last phase of completion and will handle the region’s “complex births”.

The resulting overhaul of hospital services for East Lancashire means the Park Lee Road facility in Blackburn is now on hand to offer mothers greater choice in their maternity options, with the centre offering women, deemed likely to have “low-risk” births, where problems are not anticipated, an alternative to the traditional hospital environment.

Caroline added: “While women need the best professional support available at such a crucial time, with high-tech equipment to assist, a lot of them would prefer to be in a different environment to that of a hospital.

“We offer one-to-one care, with the same midwife, for the duration of labour, and so can be vigilant in making sure we respond immediately and most appropriately to a woman’s individual needs.

“All our midwives are highly experienced, often community based, and are very used to home birthing and the high level of support that requires. We feel we are offering a home-from-home option here, but with added back up and help on hand if needed.”

The family-led environment is proving to be popular.

Caroline Watkins, from Clitheroe, said: “I have just had our daughter Annie at the centre, after previously having had my two sons in hospital. My husband Trevor and I felt at home there, as the family could come and go without the restriction of visiting hours, and our boys could visit their new sister in a lovely home-from-home environment, where we could relax and enjoy being together as a family.

“I also felt much more in control, as there was always someone to explain things at every stage. It gave Trevor a lot of reassurance too, as in a busy hospital it’s not always easy for the midwives to spend one-to-one time with each family.”

The team at the centre also recognise reassurance is needed if things don’t go as smoothly as planned and intervention is needed at any stage in labour.

Safety of mother and baby remains the priority at all times.

Caroline Broome explained: “Our transfer rate, when women are actually in labour and need further assistance in a hospital environment, is low – between nine and 15%. We are in an excellent position to spot any issues early on, as the one-to-one care means we can monitor our mothers-to-be closely and factor in any transfer time to hospital that might be needed.

“We welcome mums-to-be to come and see the facilities. They can view our three water-birthing rooms and have a look at our gorgeous building and surrounding gardens.”

For details call 01254 733434.