Our labour wards are for women who have experienced complications during their current pregnancy or a previous pregnancy or labour.

Labour wards

Our labour wards at Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea and St Mary’s hospitals are designed for women who have experienced complications during their current pregnancy, or a previous pregnancy or labour. If this is the case, your midwife or obstetrician will discuss your options for labour. Some women who choose to give birth at home or in a birth centre may be transferred to the labour ward if complications arise.

Why might I consider the labour ward?

  • You are experiencing complications in your pregnancy
  • You have experienced complications in a previous pregnancy or labour
  • You have a medical illness that complicates your pregnancy
  • You are pregnant with twins or triplets
  • Your baby is in the ‘breech’ position (bottom down)
  • You are confident that you will want epidural pain relief during labour

The labour wards are led by obstetricians who provide care in collaboration with midwives. You will have a midwife who will provide care for you and attend your birth if you give birth on a labour ward. The labour ward offers equipment and facilities to provide interventions such as continuous fetal heart rate monitoring, a caesarean or instrumental birth and blood transfusions if necessary.

What pain relief is available?

The labour ward offers several medical options for pain relief during labour, including gas and air, a diamorphine injection and an epidural. 

Who can attend my labour?

Just as in the birth centre, we encourage your partner to stay with you during labour. You are also welcome to invite another companion to attend your birth. This could be a doula, another family member or a close friend. We suggest your companions bring some food and drink and a pillow and blanket, as we cannot offer a bed or private accommodation for your partner on the labour ward.

What if I experience complications?

If you experience complications during labour, you will not need to be moved – you will have access to midwives, obstetricians, anaesthetists and neonatologists as well as any appropriate medical interventions.

What if I go into labour early?

If you go into labour early, go straight to the hospital and you will be taken to the labour ward. Even if you planned to give birth at home or in a birth centre, if you go into labour before 37 weeks, you will need to go to the labour ward, where an obstetrician and midwives will provide care for you during labour.