Birth centres provide a low-risk pregnancy in a homely environment.

Birth centre

If you are having a straightforward pregnancy, planning to have your baby in the birth centre is particularly suitable for you.

You are also likely to have a straightforward, physiological birth and less likely to have medical interventions such as an episiotomy, instrumental birth, caesarean section, or a blood transfusion. It is just as safe for your baby as planning to give birth in the labour ward. Click here to view the Birthplace cohort study, and key findings.

The beautifully designed rooms have birth pools, soft lighting, birthing beds, birth slings and bean bags to support your comfort and help your labour progress. After your baby is born you can stay in a room with an ensuite bathroom before going home from the birth centre (typically within 24 hours).

Our birth preparation classes will give you information and help you to get ready for your labour in the birth centre. You will learn:

  • How your body works in each stage of labour
  • The different types of pain relief options
  • What a physiological birth is, and how we support you to have one in the birth centre
  • Developing tools to support labour and birth, such as upright labour, and how to work with gravity

Should anything unexpected happen during labour, or you change your mind and want an epidural, the birth centre midwives will take you to the nearby delivery suite. Your midwife will tell you how long it takes to transfer to the delivery suite. Emergency equipment is available if needed to support you and your baby, but it is stored away to keep the room a homely environment.

The birth centre is led by midwives who will support and encourage you through your labour and provide a more homely setting to give birth.

Why might I consider the birth centre?

  • You want to give birth in a more homely environment
  • You feel that with the right support you could have a natural birth
  • You want to be able to use water in labour
  • You would prefer to avoid having medical interventions

If you have a straightforward pregnancy, you could be referred to us by their midwife or obstetrician by 34 weeks. We will then make contact, inviting you to a birth preparation group at 36 weeks so you understand what the birth centre care involves.

If it is your first pregnancy, we then see you for antenatal appointments at 38, 40 and 41 weeks and up to 13 days over your due date. If it is your second or a subsequent pregnancy, we see you at 38 and 41 weeks and up to 13 days over your due date. 

Frequently asked questions

Who can attend my labour? 

Visit our patients and visitors page to read the most up to date guidance on who can support you during labour. 

What will help me cope with the pain of labour? 

Deep warm water can be helpful for labour and birth. We also offer Entonox (gas and nitrous oxide known as gas and air). We encourage you to be active and to move around using mats, bean bags, couches, stools and slings to support you in upright positions, which may help your labour progress. Your midwife will help you focus and ease into in an experience which is designed to facilitate your labour and birth in a home-like setting.

Please note that if you are certain that you want an epidural during labour, you should plan to give birth in the delivery suite.

What if I experience complications during labour? 

Our birth centre team includes midwives, students and maternity support workers. You will be cared for in labour by one of our midwives. If complications develop you will be transferred to our delivery suite where the team of people looking after you will include specialist doctors - namely obstetricians and anaesthetists.

At our hospitals, the birth centre and delivery suites are located near each other. In many cases, you could walk from the birth centre to the delivery suite, but occasionally we may use a wheelchair or a trolley to transfer you to the delivery suite. Depending on the reason for the transfer this may take between 5 and 25 minutes.

We transfer people to the delivery suite from the birth centre during labour around 15 to 20 per cent of the time overall. About 14 women and birthing people out of 100 who are having their first babies will be taken to the delivery suite and about two women and birthing people out of 100 who are having their second or subsequent babies. Ideally, the midwife caring for you at the birth centre will go with you settle you in and provide a handover of care.

What if I go into labour early?

We usually see you at around 37 to 41 weeks and six days pregnant. If you go into labour before 37 weeks, you have gone into labour early. We recommend you give birth on the delivery suite where a team including midwives and obstetricians will look after you.

For more information, and to read the experiences of mothers who have delivered in our birth centre, visit our Instagram page.

Register with our maternity services