Mums-to-be can now look forward to a transformed maternity service thanks to the opening of a new midwife-led birthing unit at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
The £600,000 state-of-the-art Waterlily Birth Centre was due to welcome its first newborn baby yesterday.
The opening marks a “big step forward” for maternity services at the hospital, which was criticised by an independant health and care watchdog five months ago.
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) said the service needed improving to give women more choice of where to have their babies.
Providing a better birth experience was a top priority for the hospital long before the CQC’s findings, with plans put in place for the birthing unit just over a year ago.
Work started on the Waterlily Centre at the end of September, and now proud staff and midwives are delighted to finally put it into use.
The centre offers expectant mothers the chance to give birth in a “home-from-home” environment, designed to make labour as relaxing as possible.
State-of-the-art equipment and modern decor has been used in the three individual birthing rooms, and there’s even mood lighting in the rooms as well as in the birthing pools.
There’s also Bluetooth to play your own music, specialist birthing equipment and tools, such as sofa beds, recliners, bean bag beds, and birthing balls to support different birthing positions, while visible medical equipment has been kept to a minimum.
Mums and dads-to-be can also enjoy en-suite facilities, and a kitchen and living area.
The centre is aimed at women who have had straightforward pregnancies, and who want as little medical intervention as possible – with the peace of mind that they can be transferred to the hospital’s delivery suite next door in the event of any complications.
Specialist midwife at the hospital, Catherine Weatherill, said: “We have wanted this for a long time and there has been a gap in the service. But it is brilliant that women in the area will now have the option of being able to give birth somewhere as fantastic as this.”
Director of nursing Catherine Morgan added: “This is a big step forward for maternity services at the Trust.
“We have developed this service following recognised national guidance which indicates that birth centres enhance good outcomes and lower the rates of Caesarean deliveries.”
The birthing unit will be officially opened on January 13 by the High Sheriff of Norfolk, Nicholas Pratt, when the first baby born at the unit will be invited back to take part in the special celebration.