Thursday, 28 May 2009

A Space to Give Birth in event 2

Deverra and LJMU ran another fantastic event at the Climate for Change experiment at FACT, Liverpool on May 18th.
This day focused on gathering the views of health professionals on the need for change in Maternity room design and it had a great turnout with over thirty Midwives, Managers, Architects, Designers and students from around the North West.

The day sparked off lots of interesting debates and discussions and I will posting up some of the presentations, photographs, videos and feedback from the event in the next few weeks.
The day started with a delicious breakfast of fruit and juice.

We then presented the work from the previous event and summarised some of the work we have been doing, looking at innovative maternity room design.

We showed a film with footage from the first 'A Space to give Birth in' event in March, both filmed and edited by Neringa Plange (

We also had a presentation from the National CHildbirth Trust about their, 'Better Birth environment' campaign.

We had a really interesting talk from Aquabirths ( about designing bespoke birthing pools and we were all inspired by their enthusiasm and the possibilities for new and exciting pools that could be used within UK maternity units.

During lunch we had Gafro ( a very talented percussionist, from the Liverpool Lark Lane Drummers group, run a workshop on African drumming, he introduced us to a rhythm which is used culturally to ease childbirth and I thought it was interesting to feel the mood change as the powerful, melodic music was heard throughout the FACT building, As we played, the music also depicted the changes of rhythm that women experience in Labour, from fast to slow, relaxed, to invigorated.

It also reminded us, that for many women birthing for the first time, they are unsure, feel uncomfortable or they 'don't know how to do this' or lose their way (I think anyone joining in with the workshop could agree that we all lost the way rhythmically many times) but with a skilled and non judgemental facilitator (or musical midwife) we were able to rejoin the rhythm and enjoy the experience!
After lunch we facilitated a group discussion exploring ideas about ideal birth environments and how we can move actual maternity room design towards this ideal within the UK.

The findings from the discussion will be posted in the next few days, and make very interesting reading and have given us lots of ideas about ways to move this project forward.

Next we had a presentation from Bianca Lepori (Rome), Architect and author of ‘Architecture Inside Out’, prioritising human needs in design of spaces, she specialises in redesigning birthplaces and furniture to meet women’s psycho-physiological needs in birth.

She introduced us to the ways in which women move and inhabit space when in labour and how maternity design can facilitate this need for movement.

Marc O’ Riain (Cork), Interior designer of an award winning maternity room at Cork University Maternity Hospital presented his design process for a hospital which was designed to be 'More like a hotel than a hospital'.
I found it really interesting that the designers interviewed people about their time in hospital, their fears about the clinical feel of the space and an over riding feeling that pregnancy is not an illness!

I found it very inspiring that the designs were implemented in a functioning hospital and are currently being used by labouring women in Cork, they are truly an example of innovative design!

Findings from the day will be published in the near future, and a second film produced from the footage of this second event (massive thanks to Marc Mcdermott for his filming)

I want to thank everyone for coming, sharing your expertise and creating a thought provoking and inspiring event.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Sensory rooms

As part of our research we visited a Multi-sensory (Snoezelen) room. These rooms are designed to deliver stimuli to various senses, using lighting effects, color, sounds, music, scents, etc.
They are usually used for children with learning difficulties and autism, but some research has recently been done on the use of Snoezelen rooms to give birth in.

This was a qualitative study, with in depth interviews of sixteen women that used Snoezelen rooms to give birth in.

The findings of the study found six themes from the data which providing insight into what a Snoezelen environment can offer a labouring woman: distraction; relaxation; comfort; environmental control; choice of complementary therapies; and safety in a home-like atmosphere.

Additional categories revealed factors that facilitated and/or detracted use of the room such as familiarity with features, being offered information and choice, timing in labour, the support person's response and working order of the room's features.


Women's experiences of using a Snoezelen room during labour in Western Australia,
Yvonne Hauck, Catherine Rivers, Kathleen Doherty, MidwiferyVolume 24, Issue 4, December 2008, Pages 460-470

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

A Space to Give Birth in event FACT, Liverpool May 18th

We now have confirmation of a fantastic line of speakers at our next event.

A free public event on Maternity Room design at FACT ( Liverpool on Monday May 18th 10am-4pm.
With presentations from-

LJMU Design department and Deverra- a video summary from the first ‘A Space to give birth in’ event in FACT in March 2009- a forum on requirements for women in the design of spaces for labour

National Childbirth Trust- Better Birth Environment campaign update
RORSA Designers of the award winning Cork Maternity unit birthing rooms (

Bianca Lepori is an anthropologically, medically and psychologically informed architect and designer living in Rome. Over the past twenty years, she has researched women’s psycho-physiological needs at birth and successfully redesigned birthplaces and furniture accordingly. Her books, articles, lectures and consultancy on this subject have contributed to attitudinal change, practice and implementation. She is a fellow of the School for Social Entrepreneurs in London.Author of: Creating Birth Space to Enable Undisturbed Birth in Birth Territory and Midwifery Guardianship(2008) by Fahy, Foureur, and Hastie (Elsevier)

A few more presentations to confirm so will add a schedule ASAP

Friday, 1 May 2009

Ulster Hospital Maternity Unit

This maternity unit has a home from home area with seven rooms. This is a new unit within the Ulster Hospital. It is a midwife-led unit consisting of seven spacious rooms, all with en suite facilities and birthing pool. Opened in Summer 2007.

As you can see they have many innovative aspects to the rooms, I love the way the wall between the pool and the bedroom can be pulled back to make one space.

They also have some equipment from the German company FEBROMED which makes equipment for birthing rooms, that I feel, could really improve the way women use the space within birthing rooms, and encourage upright positions to help babies descent and pushing in the second stage. And also to encourage partners to be involved and physically in contact with each other.

Elaine Madden (Lead Midwife, Ulster Maternity Unit,. South Eastern Trust) said that the equipment is really popular and well used and that mums love it.

Results of a survey carried out by the Healthcare Commission to find out what women think about the maternity care they have received, found in Liverpool that:

20% (England Average 14.8%) of women felt unable to move around and choose the position that made them most comfortable?

and when asked-

What position were you in when your baby was born?(Of those who had a vaginal delivery.)

8% (12% England average) were standing squatting or kneeling (as opposed to sitting, lying or in stirrups)

Considering that a recent Cochrane review also found that women who walk, sit, kneel or otherwise avoid lying in bed during early labor can shorten the first stage of labor and were less likely to seek pain relief through epidural analgesia, equipment like that used in Ulster hospital, should, I feel be in all Maternity units!


Lawrence A, et al. Maternal positions and mobility during first stage of labor. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Issue 2, 2009.

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