The Birthing Centre 

The Birthing Centre is our midwifery lead unit where you can give birth in a calm, comfortable and private environment. UCLH offers and supports home birth for women with a low risk pregnancy that is not complicated by medical or obstetric concerns.

However, if you decide against a home birth we recommend that you plan to give birth on the Birthing Centre if you have no medical conditions and your pregnancy is uncomplicated.

Our aim is for all women to have a safe, positive and confident experience of pregnancy, labour and childbirth and our team of passionate and experienced midwives are highly committed to make this happen.

You can use the Birthing Centre from the start of your 37th week of pregnancy up to 41 weeks +6 days. The Birthing Centre is located on the 3rd floor of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (EGA) Wing. This is one floor above the Labour Ward.

  • Deciding on place of birth

    If you are still undecided about where to have your baby, please consider reading this leaflet which is based on the best evidence currently available.

  • Postnatal Care in the Birthing Centre

    Following the birth of your baby, you will be invited to stay on the Birth Centre for a period of about six hours prior to being discharged home.

    Early discharge home enables you and your family to be together and get to know your new baby. You will be supported by the community midwifery team and we will arrange for them to visit you on the day after you are transferred home.

    If you or your baby require extra care and support following birth you may be transferred to our postnatal ward.

  • If you are still unsure

    If you are unsure whether the Birth Centre is right for you because you plan to have an epidural, it is still worth coming to us. We can provide the full range of pain relief options: hydrotherapy, gas and air and Diamorphine. There is also the option to have acupuncture as an alternative form of pain relief. Later, if you feel that you want additional pain relief then you can transfer to labour ward.

    Women who come to the birth centre are usually in good health so there is no reason to expect a problem during birth. Midwives are trained to detect if labour is not progressing as well as it should and to make sure you and your baby are safe.

    Women who develop complications during labour will require transfer to our labour ward. The most common reasons for transfer are when there is slow progress in labour, or women deciding they would like an epidural or because the baby requires closer monitoring. Transfer to the labour ward can be completed in minutes.

    Factors that can increase the risk of complications during birth include having a high Body Mass Index (BMI), having high blood pressure and having diabetes. Some complications from a previous pregnancy can also increase the risk of complications during birth for pregnant women. It is important to discuss these factors with your midwife, as you could still be able to give birth on the Birth Centre following an assessment and careful individual birth planning.

  • What the Birthing Centre offers...

    • A full range of antenatal care services
    • Each room has dimmer switches for you to create soft lighting and there are facilities for you to play music or listen to the radio during labour
    • Seven birth rooms / postnatal bedrooms where you and your partner will usually be able to remain for the duration of your stay
    • All rooms are en-suite with showers and have reclining chair beds
    • Two birthing pools for you to labour and give birth in to help as a form of pain relief (over 70% of women who have their babies in the birth centre use water at some stage in their labour with 28% giving birth in the pool)
    • Birth stools to help you with an upright position, as well as bean bags and birth balls
  • Why choose the Birthing Centre?

    Evidence suggests that women who plan to give birth in a midwifery lead unit are less likely to have interventions during labour and more likely to have a normal birth.

    The 2011 ‘Birth Place in England Study’, which studied more than 62,000 women with a straightforward pregnancy, found that women who receive midwifery-led care in a birth centre are:

    • Less likely to have a medical intervention, such as a caesarean section, ventouse or forceps birth
    • Less likely to have vaginal or perineal tears
    • Less likely to need pain relieving drugs for labour
    • More likely to have a straightforward birth
    • More likely to breastfeed successfully
    • More likely to be satisfied with your care
    • No more likely to have complications with the baby

Ana Esquerdo, Matron: Inpatients, Maternal Fetal Assessment Unit, Labour Ward, Close Observation Bay

Ana Esquerdo

Ana is the matron for The Birthing Centre, Antenatal Care Unit and Community Midwifery Services. She has more than ten years of experience in different midwifery settings across London.

Some of her objectives as a matron are to promote normality and increase the number of babies born in the Birthing Centre and to improve the experience of women having induction of labour in the Antenatal Care Unit.

Ana is also a supervisor of midwives, a role she enjoys as it presents her with everyday challenging situations that usually resolve by listening to women and individualising their care as well as supporting midwives who face difficult practice dilemmas.

“I am passionate about service improvement initiatives in order to make things better for both women and their families and for the midwives caring for them.”

Email: ana.esquerdo@nhs.net