Wednesday, 29 April 2009

St Mary's Hospital, London

I am going to start featuring pictures and details of birthing rooms which have been designed in an innovative way to facilitate physiological birth.

I am hoping the new birthing center rooms in Liverpool (the Big Push project) will incorporate some of these ideas.

The first hospital I want to feature is St Mary's in London. The midwife-led St Mary’s birth centre opened its doors on June 4 2008 following four years of planning and preparation.

The center is open to women with low risk pregnancies.

All five bedrooms are en-suite, with a double bed, mats, birth stools and hammock as well as a TV for the whole family to relax together and welcome their new arrival. Three of the bedrooms are fitted with corner baths and the others with a birth pool and wet room.

When we interviewed women at the 'A Space to give birth in event in FACT' one of the issues that came up was the difficulty in transition from one physical space to another, having to walk down busy public corridors in the second stage of labour or transition to get in a pool.
As you can see in the picture above, St Mary's have en suite wet rooms with pools, so women can get in or out of the pool as they choose.
I also love the hammock which women can use to hang onto, this technique of 'dangling' is described on the Spinning babies website as 'allowing the pelvis to have the most mobility of any technique' and the "baby come out" position, so named by Penny Simkin.
I think the pull down double beds are a FANTASTIC idea. With the beds up, there is lots of space to move around and there is less of that sense of a bed dominating the room. The bed is also low to the ground so may feel more 'Safe' than beds which are high up off the ground, in the Cork birthing room that I mentioned in a previous post, whilst I love the decor (much more like an expensive spa than a hospital) the bed does not look as comfortable or welcoming as St Mary's!
The beds at St Mary's are also Doubles, which means there's room for Dad too! This that they are valuing fathers and the creation of the family unit.

This takes on board the recommendations of the Fatherhood Institute (The Dad Deficit: The Missing Piece of the Maternity Jigsaw)

Their research found that-
  • 70% of men and women (asked) agree that dads should be able to stay overnight in hospital with their partner when their baby is born.


Sarah Stewart said...

Great blog-interesting to see that you are looking at same issues as we are 'down-under'. Would be great to meet up and have a chat further. Sarah
PS: the images of the birth rooms - are they copyrighted or can I use them (as long as I attribute them to you)?

Selina and Christine said...

Thanks Sarah. Would love to meet up, I have always wanted to go to NZ!
I have permission from the photo's owner to put them on here so sure it will be fine to use them.

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks for that-they're the best photos of birth units I have seen so will use them to illustrate what we're trying to do in SL

Rebecca said...

I'm not sure if this blog is still active but I found it searching for st mary's as my best friend had her baby there and I went on the day and it was amazing, I fell in love with the place! My husband and I want to start trying for a baby soon but I have had a discectomy (spinal surgery but milder not like a fusion or anything) will this make my birth "complicated" and therefore I wont be able to use this place? Also..would you recommend using a doula for a birth like that where there are fears and it's a first etc? :)

Selina and Christine said...

Hi Rebecca, yes, still active, finally entered a new post today!
You may be able to use the birth center, I would contact a senior midwife there to discuss the effect your spinal surgery may have on the birth.
Speaking as a doula I would say yes, a doula can be invaluable to support any birth, but especially if you are worried about additional complications. I have supported a number of women that had were 'high risk'. See my website for some birth stories
Hope it all goes well for you!

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