Home births
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Dr Sarah Temple
A family doctor with more than 20 years experience working with children in both General Practice and Mental Health Services. Trained to run Emotion Coaching Parenting Courses. She has a special interest in the link between child and parental wellbeing.
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Birth and Labour

What is a midwife-led birth unit (MLBU)?

A midwife-led birth unit (MLBU) can either be part of a hospital's main maternity unit, or a separate building. These units are a compromise between home and hospital births.
In Short
MLBU's provide the comfort and familiarity of home and ready access to medical care of the delivery unit in the adjoining maternity hospital.

The rooms look more like a home than a hospital room, there is the option of soft lighting, music, gym balls and birthing pools.

Around three percent of pregnant women choose this birthing environment as well.

Your baby is delivered usually by one of the team of the midwives from the hospital. Midwives often choose to work in MLBUs as they feel they can work more naturally with a labouring woman and the woman will have a better birth experience.

Expectant women sometimes choose this option instead of a hospital birth as because they feel they have a better chance of being looked after in labour by someone they already know. In addition they feel reassured by the emergency back up of the hospital. Discuss it with your doctor or midwife during one of your early antenatal appointments. Towards the end of your pregnancy they will assess you to see if your pregnancy is low risk and therefore suitable for a MLBU delivery. If you are well you may go home a few hours after the birth. If there are complications, and you need to stay longer, you may be transferred to the postnatal ward in the hospital.

The disadvantage of an MLBU is that won’t have immediate access to anaesthetists to administer epidurals or obstetricians or neonatal nurses; the only pain relief available will be gas and air and pethidine. Some free-standing birth centres may have cover from these specialists, but most don’t. If you need these you will transferred to the delivery unit.

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This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.