Having a baby is such a special time in your life and we want you to have the best possible experience. We’re here to offer you lots of support throughout pregnancy, during birth and after the birth of your baby.
You can find lots of information below about our birthing centre at The Northumbria hospital, as well as our midwifery-led units and all the ante-natal and post-natal care that we offer.
Maternity care during the coronavirus outbreak
Safety is our top priority and due to the current situation we have had to make some changes to our service in order to protect our patients and our staff.
This page gives information and we have set up a COVID maternity helpline on 07823 907484 for pregnant women who are booked to deliver with us. The line is open 9am-4pm Monday to Friday and we will answer questions relating to pregnancy, care and visiting. For clinical advice, women should continue to contact the hospital where they are due to deliver.
For further information around COVID screening during pregnancy, please see the FAQ page here.
If you’ve chosen to have your baby with us in hospital, watch our video to familiarise yourself with our department at The Northumbria hospital, and what will happen upon your arrival.
All parent education and classes are cancelled until further notice.
- Appointments and scans
From Monday 2o July, women are allowed to bring one person along with them to their 12 and 20 week scan appointments.
To reduce footfall within our sites, please could women attend all other routine and planned antenatal appointments unaccompanied. This includes community and hospital antenatal clinic appointments and any other scans.
Antenatal appointments are important for the health of pregnant women and their babies. We would urge women to continue to attend their planned antenatal visits as long as they do not have a new continuous cough or high temperature. If women are unable to attend their appointment, please contact the hospital or their midwife who will to arrange a telephone consultation.
In future, some routine antenatal and postnatal appointments may be conducted via telephone, rather than face-to-face. If this applies, women will be contacted in advance.
If women need to attend the Pregnancy Assessment Unit, please only bring one support person.
It is understandable that during this challenging situation, women are requesting the use of video calls during scans to try and involve their partners however this is not possible.
Ultrasounds in pregnancy remain clinical investigations and it is important that our sonographer can concentrate on performing these investigations without distraction. Most importantly, the clinical information obtained during the scans must be properly safeguarded by the trust. For these reasons we are unable to accommodate video calls or any other kind of recordings during the scan. This has always been the case and no change to policy is planned.
Due to the exceptional circumstances we are facing we have the following arrangements in place:
- When women attend for their scan we will provide scan images free of charge.
- Should there be any concerns raised during the scan we will ensure that women can involve their partners in these conversations.
- We are happy to accommodate a brief phone call at the end of the scan, on speaker phone, to enable women to share hearing the gender of the baby with their partner. As has always been our policy, we won’t be able to provide the gender in writing for a reveal at a later time.
If women have any concerns about themselves or their baby please contact the maternity unit as usual for advice. Please see here for information regarding the importance of a baby’s movements.
- Admitted to hospital/labour and home births
Please could women only bring one designated birthing partner with them when in labour or admitted to hospital. This needs to be the same person throughout labour and they will then accompany them to the postnatal ward.
If women have previously arranged to have a home birth then this is unaffected by the current situation.
- Postnatal care
Other than the designated birthing partner, there is no visiting on our postnatal ward.
Our single-ensuite rooms on our postnatal ward at our Northumbria hospital enable birthing partners to continue to stay with women throughout the duration of their stay however they must remain in the room at all times.
Birthing partners should be encouraged to bring their own provisions such as bring healthy snacks, noodle pots (hot water will be available) and other non-perishable items as this will not be provided by the ward. If a birthing partner chooses to leave, they will not be permitted to return and must wear a mask. The on-site restaurant is also for staff only.
After mum and baby leave hospital, the midwife will contact mums before visiting them at home with their babies to ensure everyone in the household is well before attending.
Screening tests offered during and after pregnancy
Screening tests are used to find people at higher chance of a health condition. Whether or not to have each test is a personal choice that only the individual invited for screening can make.
We offer all pregnant women screening tests during pregnancy to look for certain health conditions that could affect them or their baby.
Screening tests are also offered for babies soon after they are born so they can be given appropriate treatment as quickly as possible if needed.
Read the screening tests for you and your baby leaflet before your midwife booking appointment to find out much more about the screening tests offered during and after pregnancy. This information is also available in other languages and easy guides.
If you need one, you can pick up a printed copy of this leaflet at your booking appointment.
Birth Reflection Service
Sometimes following a birth it is helpful to talk through your experience. If you’ve had your baby with us, you can spend time talking to a midwife through our birth reflection service.
- Birthing centre
Our birthing centre is based at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital and offers you a welcoming, safe environment to have your baby in.
You will have a single en-suite room and your partner is also able to stay overnight in your room. The delivery suite has birthing pools if you would like this as an option.
The centre has a consultant-led obstetric unit and co-located midwifery-led unit. It also has a special care baby unit for those babies who need extra help.
Please get in touch if you would like to look around.
If you choose to deliver your baby here you will still receive your ante-natal care at one of our current hospitals close to home. Depending on the care you need that will be at Hexham, North Tyneside or Wansbeck general hospitals, or Berwick or Alnwick infirmary.
- Our midwifery-led units
In addition to the birthing centre at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, we also have midwifery-led units in Hexham, Berwick and Alnwick. These small units are led by highly skilled experienced midwives who provide one to one personal care and support within a relaxed and friendly environment.
Our midwives provide care to mothers in the units and in the community after the birth of your baby. They cover local and outlying clinics, provide home visits and ensure continuity of antenatal, labour and postnatal care.
We would be delighted to show you around any of our units, please call the units to make an appointment. The contact details are below.
Alnwick Infirmary (Hillcrest)
Hillcrest is a stand alone unit in the grounds of Alnwick Infirmary with nine beds.
As in Berwick, the unit has an overnight on-call system for women deemed to be low-risk who are due to give birth at Hillcrest. This interim measure allows us to continue fully staffing Hillcrest during the day, seven days a week and continue with all local community midwifery services to support local women throughout their pregnancies. The temporary measure means that between 6pm and 8.30am (seven days a week), there will be an on call midwifery service for Alnwick women who are booked to give birth at Hillcrest.
Hillcrest is open seven days a week, from 8.30am until 6pm with antenatal clinics, consultant-led clinics and postnatal drop-in clinics and community midwifery services.
During this interim safety measure, women who give birth at Hillcrest will experience a shortened post natal stay and discharges will be based upon clinical need. As the unit is not be staffed 24/7, there is no inpatient post natal care for Alnwick women who have chosen to deliver at The Northumbria hospital, however extra support with community breastfeeding services are available to support local women at home.
Women considered to be low-risk women have the choice to give birth in Berwick Maternity Unit.
The unit is open from 9am-6pm Monday to Friday and 9am-2.30pm at weekends, with a 24/7 on-call service for low-risk women who wish to deliver at the unit or at home.
There are regular antenatal and postnatal clinics for both low and high-risk women at the unit with enhanced community postnatal care for women including:
- Daily telephone contact following discharge to give any immediate advice and signpost to relevant services if required
- Home visits arranged to meet needs of individual women.to offer support with feeding and baby care such as bathing, general baby wellbeing
- Drop-in postnatal care at the unit to address any wellbeing concerns for new mothers or babies, including full breastfeeding support. If necessary, new mothers will be able to stay in the unit during opening times to receive feeding support
- Greater links with local organisations such as Sure Start, which provide a range of sessions for new mothers to support breastfeeding and care of the baby.
Hexham General Hospital
This unit is open 24 hours a day. Our delivery suite has four rooms with en-suite facilities, one of which has a birthing pool. The ward area has seven single rooms with en-suite facilities.
- Antenatal care
During pregnancy most of your contact will be with your community midwife who will see you regularly to ensure that both you and your baby are healthy and to answer any questions you may have.
As soon as you have a positive pregnancy test your GP surgery will provide you with the information you need to access the care of one of our community midwives.
You will be given an opportunity to attend a pre-booking information session with a midwife. During this session you will be given information about where you can have your baby, the screening tests available to you and your baby and information about healthy lifestyle choices will be discussed with you. You will have the opportunity to discuss any concerns you may have with the midwife present.
Once you have received this information, you should feel able to make informed decisions about your care and where you would like to have your baby. A booking appointment is then planned to discuss these decisions and your care during your pregnancy and after you have your baby.
You will be offered two ultrasound scans at a hospital of your choice. The first scan, in early pregnancy, is to confirm the expected date of delivery and the second scan is to assess your baby’s development.
You will also be offered parent education classes and given an appointment to attend an infant feeding workshop.
Should you require any extra care (or you are deemed high risk) your midwife will refer you to the hospital to see a consultant. Low risk pregnancies do not generally require a consultant appointment, the midwife is responsible for your care.
Throughout your pregnancy, information and advice is available to you from all the health professionals involved in your care. We have many leaflets readily available which may help you understand, and make decisions on, your care and treatment. The information most appropriate to you will be provided to you throughout your care and you can talk to your midwife or health professional at any point for more advice.
- Antenatal clinics
Antenatal clinics are held in a variety of settings, including GP surgeries, children’s centres and in our hospitals to give you a choice of time and location that is most convenient for you. Your community midwife will provide you with the information you need to decide where to have your antenatal care, including those clinics run by our specialist midwives.
- Antenatal and newborn screening
We offer a comprehensive screening programme for pregnant women and newborn babies to help identify any increased risk of a disease or condition.
Our screening co-ordinators support pregnant women and their families throughout the process, ensuring that any positive results are received in a timely manner and information provided to promote informed choice and decision making.
Antenatal screening programmes:
- Sickle cell and thalassaemia
- Infectious diseases
- Down’s/Edward’s/Patau’s syndrome and fetal anomaly ultra sound scan
Newborn screening programmes:
- Hearing screening
- Blood spot screening
- Newborn and infant physical examination
The screening programmes will be discussed with you at the appropriate time, either during your pregnancy or after the birth of your baby. You will have time at your appointments to discuss your options and have any queries that you may have answered.
More information about these programmes are available in your ‘screening tests for you and your baby’ leaflet given to you at your early pregnancy session/booking appointment. You can find more information on screening on NHS Choices here.
- Parent education
We offer a choice of friendly, informal parent education sessions covering all aspects of pregnancy, what to expect during labour, delivery and parenthood. Fathers/partners are welcome to attend any of the sessions, and your community midwife will be able to give you details.
All mums are also given an appointment to attend an infant feeding session run by specialist infant feeding coordinator midwives who are available to offer you support when required.
We have a team of Obstetric Physiotherapists who work across our Trust to keep you healthy and comfortable during your pregnancy and post-delivery. Below are some downloadable resources that you can access to guide you.
You can still have a telephone consultation with a Physiotherapist at this time, so please ask your Midwife to refer you.
Antenatal Advice Leaflets for pain and discomfort during pregnancy
Antenatal Advice for Labour
- Specialist midwives
We have a number of specialist midwives who can provide extra care and support with things like diabetes, teenage pregnancy or if you need help with smoking cessation, or drug and alcohol addiction issues. Your community midwife will refer you to these services if you need this extra support.
- Aqua natal classes
Aqua natal exercise classes are designed specifically for women throughout their pregnancy with mums then returning six weeks after the baby is born. They can help promote sleep, reduce stress levels and reduce back and joint pain. They encourage the baby to get into the best position for birth as well as maintaining good core strength which can help expectant mums to feel comfortable throughout pregnancy, improve flexibility of the spine and joints and lower heart rate and blood pressure. Talk to your midwife about the nearest class to you.
- Our Professional Midwifery Advocates (PMAs)
Our Professional Midwifery Advocates are a group of midwives who work within Northumbria Healthcare Trust who are here to support you with birth choices. They are experienced practicing midwives who have completed further training with the aim to support and facilitate the practices and development of midwives to ensure safety for women and their babies in addition to receiving a high standard of care.
PMAs aim to ensure women and families receive guidance and information about the right type of care, in the right care setting.
They are here to support women and families as well as to give sound professional advice.
They are also here if you have concerns about your care, you and/or your midwife may contact a PMA.
Women are able to talk to a PMA in confidence with any issues relating to practice care provision.
They can meet with you and your midwife and/or one of the consultants in order to help you achieve the birth you want by acting as a resource and to assist in discussing your birth choices. They will provide evidence-based information to help you achieve your goal and ensure all aspects of your planned care are explained thoroughly.
The contact details for the PMA’s are: –
- Birthing unit, Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital 0191 607 2318
- Hillcrest midwife-led unit 01665 626 732
- Berwick midwife-led unit 01289 356 622
- Hexham midwife-led unit 01434 655 352
Patient support groups
National Breast Feeding Helpline 0300 100 0212
Newcastle Women’s Aid 0191 2752148
Sexual Health (One to One centre) 0191 2970441
Where appropriate you may be asked to attend a consultation online via a video call.
Rather than travelling to your appointment, you go into the clinic’s online ‘waiting area’. We will be notified when you arrive and your clinician will join you when ready
You don’t need to set up an account and no information you enter is stored.
If you have been given an online appointment please click on the following link to start the consultation at your appointment time – online consultation