With the election season unofficially underway, Health Minister Michael McGimpsey had no shortage of babies to be photographed with when he officially opened Lagan Valley Hospital’s new midwifery led unit last week.
The midwives took delivery of the new unit five weeks ago and already 30 women have availed of the service.
Mr McGimpsey, in fact, was the first visitor to see baby Adam Houston, born to Kerry and Allan Houston as the Minister’s car was en route to Lisburn.
Bookings for the foreseeable future indicate that the unit is proving popular with mothers across the catchment area which includes south Belfast, Dunmurry and Finaghy.
The MLU is designed for women who are fit and healthy in their first pregnancy, or have had no problems with previous pregnancies, and are assessed as low risk. The midwives who care for them will have looked after them from the beginning of their pregnancy. Woman will be cared for in a fully equipped room where they will stay throughout labour, birth and until they go home.
The four rooms have en-suite facilities, while three have full size birthing pools. All rooms have the latest aids to help women throughout their labour. The environment and design is relaxed and pleasant to promote and assist normal childbirth. Facilities include bed settees which comfortably allow the woman’s birth partner to stay and give extra support to the new mother around the time of the birth of the baby.
Eileen McEneaney, assistant director for Woman and Acute Child Health in the South Eastern HSC Trust, said: “The midwives and support staff are delighted with this newly refurbished unit. The feedback already from the mothers who have given birth here has been so positive.
“This unit will have strong links with the sister unit within the Trust in the Ulster Hospital ensuring that safety is the priority in all cases.”
For the first time an integrated maternity outpatient service will be located within the Maternity Unit, providing consultant and midwifery led clinics, day assessment including ultrasound scanning and parentcraft.
Previously, 1,200 women gave birth in Lagan Valley Hospital each year. It’s anticipated that 84% will continue to access their ante-natal care in the Lagan Valley Hospital.
Zoe Boreland, lead midwife, said: “Lagan Valley midwives have been trailblazers, constantly pushing boundaries in maternity care. The unit has achieved the lowest caesarean section rate of any maternity unit in the region in recent years thus embedding the culture of normal childbirth which is the foundation for Midwifery Led Care in a stand alone unit.”