Maternity tours at Leeds hospital will reassure parents-to-be

Shelley Cassere with Aneta Gawron and Andris Smetana
Shelley Cassere with Aneta Gawron and Andris Smetana
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Mums-to-be in Leeds are being given the opportunity to look around one of the city’s maternity units before their baby arrives.

Tours of services at St James’s Hospital are being run so that expectant parents can visit the labour ward in advance.

They can meet staff, ask questions and learn about the unit’s ethos, as well as finding out important practical information such as where to park.

Shelley Cassere, Labour Ward co-ordinator at St James’s, said: “We want to provide reassurance and a chance to see the facilities. I will show people round the whole unit, starting with where they have scans, and show them the complete journey.”

The new tours are part of a drive to let more parents-to-be know about the facilities at the hospital.

While Channel 4’s One Born Every Minute raised the profile of its sister unit at Leeds General Infirmary – also run by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust – at St James’s offers the same facilities.

Both units aim to provide one-to-one personalised care for women in labour.

At St James’s 10 midwives will usually be on each shift on the delivery suite while the lead clinician will be a midwife for low risk women, and a consultant for those considered high risk. St James’s also has a neonatal unit.

The unit has 10 birthing rooms with nine en-suite rooms and two water birth rooms, which have proved popular with mums since they were opened.

Jennifer Richardson, from Leeds, was the first mum to deliver in the pool at St James’s. She said: “The lights were twinkling and changing from blues, pinks and purples. It was just perfect. It was such a positive experience. I couldn’t praise the staff enough.”

Claire Todd, from Leeds, gave birth to her seventh baby at St James’s in February this year.

She said: “The midwives and consultants were absolutely brilliant. They put me at ease, supported me through labour and made the whole experience stress-free. Having a baby is a life-changing experience and I simply cannot thank the team at Jimmy’s enough. I would recommend women go and look at the unit before deciding which of the two sites they would like to give birth at.”

There is also an active birth room for women looking to deliver their babies as naturally as possible by adopting positions other than lying on a bed, although every room can be adapted for an active birth.

Shelley, a senior midwife, added: “If the mum is upright and leaning forwards, gravity helps. Deliveries can be quicker and need fewer interventions.”

She said there was not as much awareness of facilities such as the active birth suite and water birth pools at St James’s, so mums-to-be wanting to use these may find greater availability.

The team at St James’s is currently fundraising to provide extra equipment for an early labour suite.

Plans include a bike ride along the tow path from Liverpool to Leeds, and a 13-mile walk of the last leg for non-cyclists.

* Tours take place on the first Saturday of every month at 11am. To book, contact the Labour Ward on 0113 2069103.