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Heartlands Hospital – Midwifery Led Unit

The Willow Suite is a midwifery led unit, located on the first floor of the Princess of Wales Women’s Unit. The Willow Suite offers you a safe place for you to give birth if you are assessed as having a low risk uncomplicated pregnancy. This means the midwife has cared for you during your pregnancy and there have been no complications or medical problems during your pregnancy.

The Willow Suite is a three bedded birthing unit, and offers a comfortable homely environment, where birth is treated as a normal process. All of our midwives are qualified, experienced, skilled and able to recognise when there is a problem and get the right help for you and your baby if needed. A midwife is the best person to care for you when you have a normal low risk pregnancy and birth. All the midwives on the Willow Suite are trained to a high level to offer the appropriate support and encouragement you require. Our model of care is OPT-OUT which means all low risk women will be booked for the Willow Suite MLU.

If at any point during your pregnancy the midwife has a concern regarding your pregnancy, she will inform you and may ask for the opinion of a consultant. If all is well, you will stay LOW RISK, however, if the problem means that your pregnancy needs further treatment or there might be a problem during labour, you will be put under the care of a consultant – your pregnancy is then HIGH RISK.

If your pregnancy does not meet the MLU selection criteria for admission and you have chosen to deliver on the MLU the midwife can also refer you to our consultant midwife and consultant obstetrician for further discussion and review of your pregnancy and any risk factors that have been identified.

Your pregnancy will be assessed at each point of contact. The MLU also provides an antenatal clinic from 28 weeks gestation. At each antenatal appointment your pregnancy will be reviewed and reassessed to ensure that it has been uncomplicated and uneventful and that your pregnancy remains low risk. We consider the care of you and your baby to be important and therefore we risk assess your pregnancy continuously. The midwife will provide you with the details and contact numbers for the Willow Suite. Attending your antenatal appointments on Willow suite will also enable you to meet the team of midwives, familiarize yourself with the environment and discuss your plans and preferences for your birth.

The antenatal clinic also offers the option of a “membrane sweep”, if it is your first baby this will be offered at your 40 and 41 week antenatal appointment if you have not already gone into spontaneous labour. If you have had a baby before then a membrane sweep will be offered to you at your 41 week appointment. The benefit of a membrane sweep is that it can reduce the chance that you will need to have your labour induced.

You will come into the Willow Suite when you are in labour and are experiencing regular, painful contractions. On arrival, the midwife will review and reassess your pregnancy details and history to ensure that you are Low Risk and have experienced an uncomplicated pregnancy. We encourage you to contact us once you go into labour. We strongly recommend that you remain at home during the early stages of labour, a midwife will discuss coping strategies and pain relief measures for you to implement at home during this stage.

On arrival to the MLU you will be greeted and accompanied to one of our three birthing rooms:

• Water-Lily
• Daisy
• Sunflower

Two of the rooms have en-suite facilities and the largest room, Water-Lily, also has a birthing pool.

The midwife will support and advise you on different ways to cope in labour such as using alternative positions, relaxations and water for labour. There are active birth facilities, including a birthing pool, which can be used for pain relief and/or birth, birthing balls. It is important to know that the Willow Suite does not have doctors; they are based on our Delivery Suite located on the ground floor. We do not provide epidural anaesthesia, this pain relief method is provided on our Delivery Suite for women who choose this option.

Pain relief options on the MLU include paracetamol, codeine, Entonox (gas and air), Pethidine or the birthing pool. Your midwife will discuss these options with you.

A small percentage of women may experience difficulties during birth and so will be transferred to the Delivery Suite from the Willow Suite to receive care from a doctor. If your baby experiences any complications, we will perform all the necessary emergency procedures and ask for the help of the Neonatal Doctors.

After the birth of your baby, provided both yourself and baby are well, you will be discharged home directly from the Willow suite, once all examinations and necessary checks have been performed. You will then be seen by your community midwife the day after leaving the hospital. Contact numbers will be provided should you have any queries or concerns once leaving the Willow Suite.

Please do not hesitate to contact the Willow suite with any questions or queries you may have. We encourage and advise you to come and view the Willow Suite. Please telephone the unit to arrange a tour of the unit 01214240773/01214241725.

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