Alongside midwifery units are defined as midwife-led units which are on the same premises as an obstetric unit (OU). They are usually next to the OU and may have come about following restructuring of the OU.
A follow on study from Birthplace 2011 investigated the way that alongside midwifery units are organised, staffed and managed, as well as the experiences of the women who use them and the staff who work in them.
The researchers looked at 4 different alongside midwifery units. They interviewed midwifery staff and service users, and also those in a management and organisational role. What became clear from the study was the fact that midwives working in alongside midwifery units were able to practice more autonomously, using their own clinical judgement. This is how all midwives, who are all autonomous practitioners, should be able to work, but obstetric units often discourage or reject this aspect of the midwifery role. Midwives also reported how they valued the work environment and culture, although the study did acknowledge that there was a need to ensure that midwives were supported to continue to develop their confidence, which is not a surprise as so many would have been trained in a far more repressive environment.
Another challenge for the sustainability of the alongside midwifery units was the fact that of all of the women who were considered to be good candidates to birth there, only a third ended up doing so. This study does not look at why this might be, but we know from feedback from women that very often they are simply not made aware of the midwife led unit in their area, so they did not have the opportunity to consider it for their baby’s birth.
Ultimately, Aquabirths would like to see the facilities which are commonplace within a midwife led unit such as birth pools, birth couches, mats and birthing balls, as well as the environment which is designed for calm, and to promote oxytocin, available as standard within all types of units, including obstetric units. There is no reason why these facilities could not be used by far more women, and we strongly believe that if a better birth environment was available to all, that more women would birth their babies with fewer unnecessary interventions. We hope that more research like this will encourage designers of all types of maternity units to create spaces which support both women and midwives to work together for better births.
Birthing Couch Kit for Smaller Birth Rooms
The SoftBirth birthing couch kit has a new little sis! A shorter version for smaller rooms at a smaller price. A HoM asked us to design a smaller birth couch kit for smaller rooms, so we did and will even fit in the back of a small hatchback. Anyway, with all our birth couches we offer very large discounts when more than one of the same couch is bought. So, this is £600+VAT but 3 or more would be at £500 each. As with the larger SoftBirth couch, this is a kit – the stool and kneeler are included. The mini is also FREE with Aquabirths’ Canberra, Venus and Heart-shaped birth baths.
We’ve had a bit of a flurry of requests for corner baths, mainly from export customers, so we thought we’d better write a short blog on them.
The short answer is, ‘yes, we do make them.’ They are an excellent option where space is a bit tight but the hospital still want to give a birthing mum the option of a water birth. Sometimes, corner baths are avoided as the midwives want to be able to access the woman from as many parts of the bath as possible.
Our Dunoon model birthing bath is ideally suited to being used in a corner. It is already designed specifically to be compact and fit in smaller rooms but to still give a labouring woman plenty of room to move and keep active during birth. It does this by virtue of its rounded rectangular shape and by using space wisely so that it still has the capacity of a birth.
The Dunoon can be fitted in any position and doesn’t have to go in a corner but if you let us know when ordering, we can include an extra piece of trim (at no cost) so that you can have a neat finish against the corner walls.
Softbirth© have just launched their range of soft furnishings for the birthing room. The most exciting piece being their birthing couch kit.
With its simple yet innovative design, its segments can be moved around to suit the needs of the moment. The stool segment pulls out to give a seat for the midwife or birth partner. The recess can be used for the mother to kneel – a kneeling mat is included for comfort. Other couches charge for other items, such as inserts, as an optional extra whereas they are included in the price of the Softbirth couch.
The foam used is very firm for safety’ s sake but it is topped off with memory foam to give a very comfortable feel. The comfort is enhanced as the design tries to get away from the ‘clinical look’ whilst still being suitable for the birth room. Its approximate dimensions are 2m x 1m x 0.45m. And whilst it is firm and stable, it is not heavy or cumbersome like other similar products. It can be easily moved and deployed or put aside to clear space.
The cover is hospital grade and has welded seams and is fully cleanable. The cover is zipped so that it can be replaced and to enable inspection (the inner of the cloth is white so that any ‘strike-through’ can be quickly spotted. The zips are covered by hygiene flaps. The couch can come in mid-lilac as shown or navy blue and replacement covers can be purchased either with the couch or later as a replacement.
Another optional extra is the comfort cushions set consisting of a pillow, a square cushion and a cylinder-cushion. Larger versions of these cushions are available.
For prices, click here.