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Horton Midwifery-led Unit: your questions answered

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Midwives at Banbury's Horton General Hospital are welcoming women who have low risk pregnancies to give birth at the midwifery-led unit.

As a midwifery-led unit (MLU), the Horton continues to provide a suitable option for pregnant women in the local area who have no medical complications and a low-risk pregnancy. Women assessed to have a higher risk pregnancy are now directed to the maternity unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford where there is the right level of midwifery, obstetric and paediatric care for the mother and her baby. This decision was taken when it became clear that there would be too few obstetricians in post at the Horton to run a safe obstetric service.

 Jane Hervé, Head of Midwifery and Rhian Gibbon, senior midwife at the Horton Midwifery-led Unit (MLU), answer some of questions most often asked by mums-to-be.

 Q. I'm an expectant mother living close to Banbury, what are my birth options?

Jane: "The final decision on which unit is best for you is taken by you, your midwife, GP and obstetrician.  This collaborative approach to maternity service provision - where the John Radcliffe looks after higher risk mothers, and a midwife-led unit looks after low-risk deliveries - is a well-tested approach currently in place at our other units in Oxfordshire including Wallingford, Chipping Norton and Wantage."

Q. What's the maternity unit like at the Horton?

Rhian: "Our midwifery-led unit at the Horton is led by a dedicated team of eight midwives experienced with low-risk pregnancies.  Babies continue to be born at the Horton and we are all excited to know that there will be many more Horton babies.  

"We offer women and their partners a homely environment with a holistic approach and our aim is to give the women a quiet, calm and gentle birthing experience. We have many birthing aids and we offer aromatherapy and massage during labour. A big favourite among the majority of women is our birthing pool, which many women find helps them to relax through their labour."

Q. I've had a straightforward pregnancy and would like to give birth at the Horton MLU, but what happens if things change during my labour and I need specialist care from a doctor?

Rhian: "All of our midwives are fully trained to identify possible risks and to ensure safe transfers of care to the John Radcliffe if required. On admission, all women are assessed to confirm their suitability for a midwife-led birth. This is a standard part of our routine assessments for all women and happens at the other midwife-led units around Oxfordshire."

Jane: "Since the Horton became a temporary MLU, we have transferred a number of women from the Horton to the John Radcliffe maternity unit: the midwives identified risks which might have needed doctor-led care and the transfer was arranged appropriately.

2As part of our pregnancy pathway, we recently introduced a scan at 36 weeks for all women receiving care from OUH; the purpose is to check that the pregnancy is proceeding as planned and to be clear about the position of the baby."

Q. What can I expect if I choose the John Radcliffe to be my maternity unit?

Jane: "The John Radcliffe has an excellent midwife to birth ratio, the right number of beds and a very good reputation nationally. We are committed to providing a high standard of care and experience for every woman, their partners and babies across all of our hospital sites.  In order to manage the temporary transfer of some elements of the maternity service from the Horton to the John Radcliffe, we developed a comprehensive plan to accommodate the increased number of women giving birth at the John Radcliffe.

"This includes the introduction of extra beds at John Radcliffe maternity unit, additional delivery rooms, and some of the staff who have moved from the Horton to the John Radcliffe's maternity unit and Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU)."

Q. How can I find out more about giving birth at the Horton?

Rhian: "We are very happy for any woman expecting a baby and their partners to visit and take a look round the maternity unit at the Horton and see the facilities we have here  - just give us a call on 01295 229 459."

Services provided at Horton Midwifery-led Unit

Maternity Assessment Clinic

Open 8.00am - 4.00pm for women over 16 weeks' pregnant who have concerns or questions about their or their baby's wellbeing.

Banbury Community Midwives

Provide postnatal care every day of the week via a clinic at the Horton, as well as antenatal appointments at local GP surgeries.

Antenatal Clinic

Offers services ranging from appointments with an obstetrician (Wednesdays and Fridays) to clinics with midwives. Even if you are planning to have your baby at the John Radcliffe Hospital, you can still be seen at the Horton Antenatal Clinic.

Drop-in clinic run by consultant midwives

Every Wednesday 10.00am - 12 noon until the end of December for expectant mothers to seek advice if they are unsure about where to give birth.

Ultrasound Scan Services

Includes routine nuchal / dating scans, fetal anatomy scans and 36 week growth scans. Appointments are held daily 8.30am - 4.00pm.

Breastfeeding Support

Offered at home or at the Horton.

Newborn Hearing Screening

With specialist hearing screeners.

Paediatric Clinic

Monday to Friday 9.30am - 4.30pm run by paediatric doctors. The clinic offers newborn examinations, and will see babies with acute jaundice, babies with concerns such as feeding but who are not acutely unwell.

Any women expecting a baby, and their partner, is welcome to visit the maternity unit and see the facilities available: 
call 01295 229 459.