We want to provide the highest and safest standards of care for mothers and babies to encourage a straightforward birth as possible.
The Friarage maternity centre, which is a midwifery-led unit, offers a comfortable relaxed environment for women and their partners and is a good choice for women who are keen to have a natural birth with minimum intervention.
The centre is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and run by a team of highly skilled, experienced midwives, providing friendly individualised care to women with straightforward pregnancies.
Frequently asked questions
What doesn’t a midwifery-led unit have?
The midwifery-led unit will not have:
- Paediatricians (who care for children, including new-born babies)
- Obstetricians (who provide assistance if pregnancy and birth become complicated) available during labour
How safe are midwifery-led units?
Studies such as the ‘Birthplace Study’ have found these units are just as safe as hospital for low risk women and increase the chance of having a normal birth with less intervention. Our midwives are very skilled and trained to detect if labour is not progressing normally.
What do you mean by ‘low risk’ pregnancies?
These are women who enjoy problem-free pregnancies and give birth without any complications. This is the case for at least a third of all births and can be as high as half of all births.
What do you mean by ‘high risk’ pregnancies?
Some women will need to be cared for by a consultant (as well as their midwife). This may be from the start of their pregnancy because of underlying health conditions or complexities in previous pregnancies, or those women who find themselves needing a specialist team as their pregnancy develops – for example to manage gestational diabetes or pregnancy-related high blood pressure.
Women with high risk pregnancies can still receive their outpatient antenatal care at the Friarage with a consultant obstetrician but need to deliver in a consultant-led obstetric unit where facilities for complications are more immediately available.
What happens if I choose to have my baby in the midwifery-led unit but develop complications during labour?
If a midwife is concerned about you or your baby’s wellbeing or progress in labour, or if you decide you need an epidural, you will be transferred to The James Cook University Hospital as there are no doctors in the midwife-led birthing centre.
There are close links and communication with James Cook, so if it is clinically necessary you will be transferred there by ambulance, accompanied by a midwife and your care would continue.
Every effort will be made to ensure we are able to safely accommodate birthing your baby at the Friarage, unfortunately under exceptional circumstances the unit may be closed to admissions. If this occurs, you will be informed by a midwife and your care will be safely transferred to our James Cook maternity unit. A midwife will be able to answer any concerns or queries you may have regarding this.
What are the benefits of a midwifery-led unit?
There are many benefits for women including:
- Comfortable friendly surroundings, helping you feel more controlled and relaxed.
- Individual midwife-led care with experienced midwives
- Increases the chance of having a normal birth with less intervention
- Water birth available
- Good option if you do not want a home birth but don’t need an obstetric unit
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like your feedback. If you wish to share your experience about your care and treatment or on behalf of a patient, please contact The Patient Experience Department who will advise you on how best to do this.
This service is based at The James Cook University Hospital but also covers the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, our community hospitals and community health services.