by STACEY HEANEY
THE NEW state of the art Midwifery Led Unit (MLU) opened its doors to expectant mums at the Lagan Valley Hospital on Wednesday.
The unit has been modelled on the Home from Home unit at the Ulster Hospital and three out of the four rooms have their own birthing pool and ensuite facilities
The newly refurbished unit is designed for women who are fit and healthy
in their first pregnancy or have no problems with previous pregnancies, and
are assessed as low risk. The aim will be that women are cared for by
midwives who will have looked after them during their ante-natal period.
Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said the newly refurbished unit is 'good news for local women'.
"This will be the second freestanding midwife led unit to open in Northern Ireland. The Downe Hospital midwifery unit has already been very successful and many women are actively choosing to have their babies in midwife led units" he said. "I expect the Lagan Valley unit will be just as popular with mothers-to-be as it will provide high quality care and offer real choice.
"The transfer from a consultant lead inpatient service to the midwifery led service has been planned for some time. It is estimated that a large number of the 1,200 women each year who gave birth at Lagan Valley obstetric led unit, which only booked women with low to medium risk pregnancies, will be suitable to deliver the new unit.
Services available at the new midwifery unit will include: community midwifery service; antenatal clinics, day assessment and inpatient midwifery service for low risk women including care during delivery.
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.
Lead Midwife, Zoe Boreland added: "Lagan Valley midwives have been trailblazers, constantly pushing boundaries in maternity care. The unit has achieved the lowest caesarean section rate o any maternity unit in the region in recent year: thus embedding the culture of normal childbirth which is the foundation for Midwifery Led Care it a stand alone unit."
Eileen McEneaney Assistant Director for Woman and Acute Child Health in the South Eastern HSC Trust said: "The midwifery staff of Lagan Valley have embraced the challenge of this new unit and I am confident they will provide a fantastic service for the women of Lisburn. The team of midwives won the first National Childbirth Award in 2009 for promoting normal childbirth and they are keen to support and enable women to have positive experiences of pregnancy and childbirth. This unit will have strong links with the parent unit within the Trust in the Ulster Hospital ensuring that safety is the priority in all cases."