For the staff at Altnagelvin’s Midwifery Led Unit, every day is Mother’s Day.
The state of the art facility which was opened in the hospital’s South Wing in 2009 aims to take away the cold and clinical approach to labour and giving birth and offer mums from across the North West the chance to have an alternative, natural and often more relaxing experience.
The Western Trust’s Midwifery Led Unit has had 543 births and 100 waterbirths since it opened at Altnagelvin, and as local mums who used the birthing pools recently gathered to share their experiences this week, they had nothing but praise for the staff and facilities.
Local mum Karen Curran who gave birth to baby Jamie after using the birthing pool and is a testimony to the fact that water can speed up labour.
“I came into hospital at 3.00am and Jamie was born at 5.50am,” she said.
“When I had my daughter Ava two years ago I didn’t know anything about water birth but I would definitely recommend it to other mums. The heat of the pool is really soothing and relaxing music is played in the room as well which I found really helped. The facilities are great and the midwives were really excellent.”
Mum of three Joanne Doherty from Prehen had water births with all three of her children and says she wouldn’t change a thing about her experiences.
“I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way with Anna (4) Clara (2) and Emma, who was born four weeks ago,” she told the Sunday Journal. “I’ve had three lovely experiences and the pain relief and calmness that the birthing pool offers is great.”
Leanne Hughes, midwife and mum to baby Matthew said: “The water allows your body to do what it should do and there’s still the option to deliver out of the water if the mother wants to. The facilities in the new unit are second to none and it’s a really positive experience.”
Western Trust Assistant Director of Women and Children’s Services, Kate McDaid said: “We’re delighted that more expectant mothers are choosing to deliver by waterbirth. Waterbirths are becoming increasingly popular as there are many benefits associated including better pain management for mum and a less traumatic birth for the baby. Many women make this choice because of the waters relaxing effect, buoyancy and coping with the pain of contractions is easier due to the soothing effect of warm water.
“Women can discuss the option of birth in the Midwifery Led Unit along with other birthing plan options with their community midwife. Women will always have the assurance that if they experience any complications during birth they can be easily transferred to the adjacent Consultant Unit for specialist care.”