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Oxford Spires Midwifery-led Unit

The Spires is an alongside maternity-led unit (MLU) based at the John Radcliffe Women's Centre.

This means we are based on the main hospital site, but the unit is staffed by midwives and maternity support workers (MSW).

Our mission is to provide care that is safe and respectful of the individual needs and preferences of women and birthing people, in a relaxed environment that is kind, warm and nurturing.

Women and birthing people often comment on how safe and relaxed they feel as soon as they walk through our doors. This is something we are very proud of, and we want everyone giving birth in our unit to feel safe and welcome.

We offer a supportive home-from-home environment, where parents can enjoy the first precious moments with their baby.

The Spires is run by a team of highly-skilled and experienced midwives and maternity support workers and is open 24 hours, seven days a week.

We welcome women and birthing people with a low-risk pregnancy, who go into labour spontaneously between 37 and 42 weeks.

If you don't think this is you, and would still like to use the Spires, please speak to your community midwife for further information.

Tours of the unit

We are now offering tours of the Spires!

Spires tours are available between 35-37 weeks. Women and birthing people may choose to bring one person with them to the tour.

Tours take place on Wednesdays at 6.00pm and Saturdays at 10.00am. Please call the Spires directly to book. Tours may be cancelled if the ward is very busy.

Our Midwifery-led Units in Oxfordshire video includes footage of the Spires.

Please see the Oxfordshire Maternity Voices Facebook page for regular 'Facebook Lives' with our midwives, where you can ask questions about all aspects of your pregnancy.

Our facilities

Our five birth rooms are designed to help you relax and promote the release of natural pain-relieving hormones. Women and birthing people may bring up to two birthing partners with them. These birthing partners must be the same people for the duration of your stay. If you are using a doula, they will count as one of your two birthing partners.

Your birthing partners will be able to stay with you for the entirety of your active labour and for the immediate hours following the delivery of your baby to allow you to bond as a family.

Your birthing partners must not attend if they are COVID-19 positive / have symptoms of COVID-19.

The Chiltern Room and Waterperry Room have beds specifically designed to enable the maternal positions known to help labour progress normally. All rooms have a variety of equipment to aid optimal maternal positioning in labour, such as birthing mats, balls and stools.

Our three pool rooms (Wytham, Knowles and Burcot) each have unique features. The relaxing, soothing benefits that water provides can be very beneficial during childbirth; women and birthing people often report a feeling of weightlessness and freedom of movement when labouring in water.

We provide aromatherapy oils to further enhance relaxation and a feeling of calm. We also have Bluetooth media players so you can listen to your own music, or radios if you would prefer. You can also bring your own portable speakers.

We advocate breathing and relaxation techniques as well as massage, heat pads and aromatherapy. We offer sterile water injections which are excellent for relieving back pain and can be given at anytime throughout labour.

We can also offer Entonox (gas and air) and Meptid (an opiate based injection) or Diamorphine (opiate injection).

All our birth rooms have ensuite showers.

The Wytham Room

This is a light, spacious room that contains a large, clover leaf-shaped pool.

The Knowles Room

This is our light sensory room. It contains one of the two smaller oval-shaped pools we have on the unit, combining the benefits of water and sensory lighting to create a very gentle relaxing environment.

The Burcot Room

This is another light, airy and relaxing room and contains the other oval pool.

Care in labour

Should you want or need to see a doctor during labour we can arrange this quickly and safely. If you choose or need to transfer to Delivery Suite in labour or after the birth of your baby, we can transfer you via the lift to the obstetric unit below.

Immediately following birth, we actively promote skin-to-skin contact and delayed umbilical cord clamping.

Postnatal care

We have three postnatal rooms, all of which have double beds. We also have four further postnatal rooms available on our connecting postnatal ward, Level 7, which we can use if the Spires rooms are full.

Visiting hours antenatally / postnatally are 8.00am to 8.00pm.

Women and birthing people may have up to two visitors which must be the same as your birthing partners. If you only have one birthing partner, you may choose one other person to visit you postnatally. Your own children may visit postnatally as well as your two birthing partners.

Your birthing partners must not attend if they are COVID-19 positive / have symptoms of COVID-19.

Women and birthing people stay with us until they feel rested and are clinically fit and well for discharge home. This can be as soon as two hours after birth, but is normally between six and 24 hours after birth, and depends on individual circumstances.

Infant feeding

It is important that women and birthing people feel confident feeding their baby before they go home. We will support you in your choice of how to feed your baby.


"The Spires itself is a truly unique place which every mum-to-be should get the choice to experience."

"I felt safe, relaxed and secure."

"I felt listened to and safe every step of the way."

"There are no words to describe how grateful we are for the care we received."

"You were all so supportive and motivating when I wanted to give up. I felt so well cared-for whilst having my babies on the Spires, never rushed, and always listened to. I felt in very safe hands both times."

"Thank you so much for all being so wonderful when we came in to give birth to our son. We will be recommending the Spires unit to everyone we meet."

Find us and contact us

Level 7, Women's Centre
John Radcliffe Hospital
Oxford OX3 9DU

Tel: 01865 221666

If you are planning to have your baby at Oxford Spires Midwifery-led Unit, please call the Unit directly when you are in labour.

How to find the John Radcliffe Hospital

Last reviewed:11 September 2023