Maternity

Maternity

We recognise that expectant mothers require very special attention. Our dedicated teams are here to help you through your pregnancy and birth and provide you with the best care to suit your individual needs.

You can choose to access maternity care in any of our units:

  • Barkantine Birth Centre
  • Barking Community Birth Centre
  • Newham University Hospital
  • The Royal London Hospital
  • Whipps Cross University Hospital

Our information here will help you to access care from our expert maternity teams, who will support you to plan and prepare for pregnancy, birth and beyond.

From pregnancy through to postnatal care, our team of midwives and medical staff will help you to make informed choices.

As part of your journey with us, you can choose to have your baby at one of our tranquil birthing units led by experienced midwives; in one of our labour wards with leading consultants close at hand; or in the comforting surrounding of your own home.

We are very proud of our maternity units at The Royal London Hospital and Newham University Hospital – and refurbishment at Whipps Cross University Hospital is currently underway.

We hope that you will have a straightforward pregnancy, but if you do experience any complications, then you will have access to a wide range of experts who can provide specialist advice. Our team includes obstetric and gynaecology consultants, specialist nurses and anaesthetists. We will ensure that you are kept fully informed and treated with care and dignity at every stage of your journey.

Your pregnancy

At Barts Health we want to ensure the best possible care for you and your baby during your pregnancy. Below we outline:

Further information about your pregnancy are outlined below:

  • your appointments 
  • screening choices
  • specialist antenatal services
  • antenatal support
  • assessment units

Please speak to your midwife or contact us if you have any queries.

Our maternity information leaflets providing detailed advice on specific situations, conditions and choices can be found in the patient leaflet A-Z, under ‘M’ for maternity.

Your appointments

Making your first appointment - how to be referred

When you first find out that you are pregnant you should register for antenatal care as soon as possible. This enables us to organise maternity care for you that takes into account all your needs and preferences.

There are currently three ways that you can be referred to Barts Health maternity services. You can:

Once your referral has been received a booking appointment with a midwife will be sent out to you and ideally be completed before the week 10 of your pregnancy.

At this appointment your individual plan of care will be discussed with you and plans made for your future appointments.

If you have booked to have your baby at another unit but wish to transfer your care to us, please complete the self-referral form above. We will do our best to see you within two weeks of receiving your form.

The Trust offers an interpreting service, Bilingual Health Advocacy Service which includes face-to-face interpreting and also telephone line interpreting. For more information visit the interpreting service pages of our website here.

If English is not your first language and you require this service then this should be included on the referral form and an interpreter will be arranged for your appointment. We prefer not to use any friends or family members to interpret for you.

Before your first appointment

With your appointment letter we will also send a booklet called screening tests for you and your baby. Please read this before your appointment. You will then be able to ask any questions with the midwife before deciding which screening tests you wish to have. 

Please bring with you to your appointment:

  • scan reports if you have already had any ultrasound scans
  • a copy of your maternity notes, blood results or ultrasound scan reports if you are transferring your care from another hospital

We provide additional services for patients with learning disabilities by giving them a hospital passport. For more information about the passport visit the patients with disabilities page here.

At your first appointment

Your first pregnancy appointment, also known as your booking appointment, will either take place at one of our hospitals or in your local GP surgery or Children’s Centre.

At this appointment the midwife will ask you a series of questions about your medical history, previous pregnancies and health and well-being. The midwife will give you information for your pregnancy, including information about:

  • maintaining a healthy pregnancy such as how to eat healthily and stop smoking
  • what choices are available to you during your pregnancy, including screening tests and where to have you baby
  • how to access antenatal classes

Your booking appointment usually takes around one hour and is also an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have. You are welcome to have your husband, partner, mother, or friend attend with you.

You will be given your handheld maternity folder which includes your green maternity notes. You should keep these maternity notes in a safe place and bring them with you to every appointment and hospital attendance.

Choices of antenatal care

At your first appointment the midwife will help arrange the best antenatal care package for you and your pregnancy. The midwife will work with you to assess whether your pregnancy has any special considerations called risk factors. This enables us to offer the best care package for you and your baby. 

Midwifery led care

This package is designed for women with uncomplicated, ‘low risk’ pregnancies. Women are booked with a team of community midwives. Antenatal care is provided by these teams in community clinics at Health Centres / Children’s Centres / GP surgeries. Scans are at the hospital. You will only need to see an obstetrician if any problems arise during your pregnancy, or if you or your midwife have any concerns.

Shared care between midwife and GP

This package is also designed for women with uncomplicated, ‘low risk’ pregnancies. The midwife will generally be your lead professional and an agreed schedule of care will be planned. Care is provided with input from your GP. You will go to hospital for scans. You will only need to see an obstetrician if any problems arise during your pregnancy, or if you, your midwife or your GP have any concerns.

Consultant led shared care

This package is designed for women with complicated or ‘high risk’ pregnancies.  Depending on the specific risk factors, your care is led by a named obstetrician and your appointments will be either with the obstetrician at the hospital or with your GP / midwife in the community. Scans take place at the hospital. 

What to expect from your antenatal care

You will be invited to attend regular appointments throughout your pregnancy in order to monitor the health and wellbeing of you and your baby. 

Some of the things you should expect at these appointments include:

  • checking your urine and blood pressure
  • feeling your tummy to assess the growth and position of your baby
  • listening to you baby’s heartbeat (from 24 weeks)

You should use these appointments to discuss any concerns or worries that you may have.

To find out more visit about antenatal care, visit the NHS Choices website here.

The table below outlines your likely schedule of care if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy, this includes 10 appointments for women having their first baby and seven appointments for subsequent births. 

If you have any existing medical problems, or develop complications during pregnancy, you may need to be seen more often.

Schedule of care
Weeks' pregnant Who you will see Mother and baby checks
10 - 12 weeks Community midwife Booking visit, meet your  midwife and take your history, check BP and urine
11 - 13 weeks Hospital Scan and blood test Nuchal translucency scan: measures fluid under skin at back of baby’s neck (a test for Down’s syndrome)
16 weeks Community GP / midwife Antenatal check of mother and baby
20 - 23 weeks Hospital Anomaly scan: detailed scan for fetal wellbeing
25 weeks Community GP / midwife Antenatal check of mother and baby
28 weeks Community midwife Antenatal check of mother and baby, blood tests and anti-D if rhesus negative
31 weeks Community GP / midwife Antenatal check of mother and baby
34 weeks Community midwife Antenatal check of mother and baby, anti-D if rhesus negative, birth plan
36 weeks Community GP / midwife Antenatal check of mother and baby, discuss test results and baby’s position
38 weeks Community GP / midwife Antenatal check of mother and baby, discuss options if you go beyond 40 weeks
40 weeks Community GP / midwife Antenatal check of mother and baby, discuss options if you go beyond 40 weeks
41 weeks Community midwife Antenatal check of mother and baby, membrane sweep and book induction

At the end of each your appointments, we will give you details of where and when your next appointment will be and with who. If this is not possible, you will be contacted by telephone or letter with the details of your next appointment.

If you have either missed or not been told about an appointment that you think you should have had, please contact your midwife or antenatal clinic as soon as possible.

Screening choices

During your pregnancy, you'll be offered a range of screening tests, including blood tests and ultrasound baby scans. These tests are designed to:

  • help make your pregnancy safer
  • check and assess the development and wellbeing of you and your baby
  • screen for particular conditions

You don't have to have any of the tests, however, it is important to understand the purpose of all tests is so that you can make informed decisions.

You will be given written information about the screening tests offered. 

Please discuss the tests and ask any questions that you have with your maternity team.

The main screening tests that we will offer you during your pregnancy are listed below:

10-12 weeks

During your first appointment with your midwife you will be offered blood tests for the following:

  • your blood group
  • your haemoglobin (iron) level
  • abnormalities of the red blood cells (sickle cell diseases or thalassaemia)
  • your immunity to German measles (Rubella)
  • whether you have syphilis or hepatitis B
  • whether you have HIV
  • your blood sugar

11-13 weeks dating scan

You will be offered a scan to accurately determine when your baby is due.

This will help us assess that your baby is growing as he/she should be during your pregnancy and will also help you to plan for the arrival. 

11-13 weeks nuchal translucency scan and blood test (combined test)

At your dating scan, you will also be offered a nuchal translucency (NT) scan. The measurement of a fold on your baby’s neck during your scan is combined with a blood test to estimates the risk of your baby having Down's syndrome.

Full support is given to you and your family if your risk is determined to be higher than average.

18-20+6 weeks anomaly scan

You will be offered a further scan to check your baby’s growth and to look for signs of any abnormalities. We may offer further investigations and closer monitoring if abnormalities are present and we will continue to support you throughout.

Additional tests

In addition to the above, you may be offered additional screening tests if your midwife or doctor believes they will help them to monitor the health and wellbeing of your baby.

Assessment units

In our maternity assessment units we provide care for women who need additional monitoring during pregnancy. The name of the unit varies slightly on each of our sites, but the functions are essentially the same.

Women may be referred by their midwife, GP or obstetrician if they need extra monitoring during a complex pregnancy or if there are any concerns. Women can also refer themselves by phoning the unit on the number below.

The maternity assessment unit accepts women who are more than 20 weeks pregnant and who have symptoms such as:

  • abdominal pain
  • severe itching
  • reduced movements
  • high-blood pressure
  • waters broken (without contractions)

Women will first be assessed by a midwife in the unit, and then may be reviewed by the obstetric team if required.

The availability of our maternity day assessment facilities enables us to support women with pregnancy complications to try to avoid hospital admission until the time of labour.

Do not forget to bring your maternity notes if you come to the maternity assessment unit. Please be aware there may sometimes be a wait as women will be seen on a priority of care basis.

Maternity triage

The maternity triage areas are open 24/7 and are close to our delivery suites. Maternity triage is staffed by experienced midwives who provide urgent assessment and advice for women who think they are in labour or have any concerns.

Reasons for contacting and/or attending triage include:

  • you think you are in labour
  • waters broken (with contractions)
  • bleeding
  • any other concerns when maternity assessment unit is closed

The maternity triage is also supported by our obstetric teams who are available to review women with complications when required.

Do not forget to bring your maternity notes if you come to the maternity assessment unit. Please be aware there may sometimes be a wait as women will be seen on a priority of care basis.

Specialist antenatal services

At Barts Health, your welfare is extremely important to us.

For women with more complicated pregnancies, we offer a comprehensive range of specialist antenatal services and clinics.

Our team of experts is multi-disciplinary and includes:

  • specialist midwives
  • obstetricians
  • anaesthetists
  • medical doctors
  • paediatricians
  • health workers
  • dieticians

Depending on your needs, you will be referred to the relevant specialist team, which may involve visiting one of the following clinics (the names of the clinics may vary from each centre):

Fetal medicine team

Most pregnancies progress without any complications, however, sometimes a mother or her unborn baby needs extra care.

Our Fetal Medicine team is a specialised department that offers women and their families support through pregnancy and antenatal screening when a congenital or genetic condition might be suspected or diagnosed. The Fetal Medicine team also provide specialist scanning and support for women with complex pregnancies such as with twins or triplets.

During what can be a very stressful and difficult time, we strive to provide continuity for women and their families to make the process as smooth as possible. We are available to discuss screening options and results and support women to make decisions that are sympathetic to their family's values and beliefs.

Our support may include:

  • advice and/or counselling to aid decision making
  • working closely with our clinical genetics team to ensure that women and their partners receive all  the information they require
  • helping women through diagnostic procedures such as amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling
  • signposting women and their families to other resources of advice and support
  • making referrals to other hospitals that specialise in specific conditions for further assessment

Fetal medicine clinic

If you are referred to this clinic, you will have a detailed consultation where we assess the potential problem and plan your care.

We also perform a detailed (level 3) assessment of the baby’s fetal anatomy using the latest ultrasound equipment. We can offer further investigations including invasive diagnostic and therapeutic procedures where appropriate.

Fetal echocardiography clinic

Our combined fetal echocardiography clinic is for women with congenital heart conditions, a family history of congenital heart conditions or where the baby is found to have a heart condition. Women can be referred to this clinic by either their Midwife or Obstetrician. Some women will also have shared care with Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) cardiology team.

Diabetic / endocrine clinic

This weekly clinic is for women with an existing endocrine problem or diabetes. There is a comprehensive diabetes service and an anaesthetic review service. 

The clinic is staffed by a multidisciplinary team including:

  • consultant obstetricians
  • specialist midwife/coordinator
  • consultant endocrinologist (diabetes specialist)
  • diabetes specialist nurses
  • specialist dietician

The team works together to ensure each woman receives an individual plan of treatment and care.

Renal clinic

This is a clinic for women who have had kidney transplants in the past or have known kidney problems. After a joint review by an obstetrician and specialist renal consultant, a plan of treatment and care will be agreed.

Hypertension clinic

If you suffer with high blood pressure, either before or since becoming pregnant, you may be asked to attend this weekly clinic. A plan of treatment and care will be devised by an obstetrician and a medical consultant.

Maternal cardiac clinic

This is a clinic for women with heart transplants or known heart problems. Your specific condition will be reviewed and a plan of treatment and care made jointly by an obstetrician and consultant cardiologist.

Multiple pregnancy clinic

Multiple pregnancies are an exciting time for both parents and doctors. They do, however, bring additional complexities to pregnancy which is why women with multiple pregnancies receive a dedicated and unique multidisciplinary multiple pregnancy service. 

If you are referred to this clinic, you will be seen by a dedicated team of consultants, sonographers, and fetal medicine midwives. Some women will have all their antenatal care at hospital, while others will have a shared care schedule with the community midwives.

Mental health clinic

This is a clinic for women with a history of significant mental health problems. The service is run by a consultant obstetrician and specialist midwife, a consultant psychiatrist and two psychiatric nurses.

Haematology thrombophilia clinic / antibody clinic

These clinics are for women with a history (or history in their family) of blood clotting problems or abnormal antibodies. After review by an obstetrician and a consultant haematologist a plan of treatment and care will be agreed.

High BMI clinic

This is a clinic for women with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 or more. The BMI is calculated by height and weight and a figure of 35 is deemed to be obese and may pose a substantial risk in pregnancy. 

The clinic is staffed by a consultant obstetrician, an anaesthetist and a midwife. Each woman will be assessed and assigned a plan of care.

Preterm labour clinic

This is a clinic staffed by a consultant obstetrician for women who have a history of delivering their babies prematurely. An individualised plan of care will be made and midwives and obstetricians assigned to monitor each pregnancy.

Vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) clinic

This is a clinic for women who have had at least one previous caesarean section. The reasons for the previous caesarean section(s) will be reviewed and discussed with each woman, together with the birth options for the current pregnancy. The clinic is staffed by a senior midwife who will discuss how to maximise the chances of a vaginal birth in the current pregnancy. Women requesting a repeat caesarean section will be referred to the obstetric team for further planning.

Antenatal support

Antenatal classes are a useful way for you and your support partner to understand what to expect during labour and birth, and how to prepare to look after your new baby. Classes are informative, friendly and fun. We offer a range of classes at different times, including intensive one or two day classes.

It is also an opportunity to ask a midwife any questions that you may have. The classes are also an excellent way for you to meet and get to know other expectant parents in your area.

Demand for classes is high, so please book as early as possible.

Topics usually covered in the classes include:

  • Recognising the signs of labour and what to do
  • Breathing and relaxation for labour and birth
  • Natural and medical pain relief options
  • Complicated births and interventions
  • Breast feeding
  • Caring for a newborn

In some areas we also offer specialist classes for:

  • Twin pregnancies
  • Bengali speaking women
  • Dads only
  • Active birth

Contact the antenatal education team at your hospital to find out more.

Physiotherapy during pregnancy

There is a specialist team of obstetric physiotherapists who offer treatment for pregnancy-related problems such as back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome (pain and aching, numbness or weakness in the fingers). Please speak to your midwife if you would like to be referred to this service.

Stop smoking service

This service provides support and advise (one-to-one or group sessions) to help pregnant women give up smoking. We also provide help and advice on using nicotine replacement products. Please speak to your midwife if you would like to be referred to this service, or call 080 0169 1943 (freephone). 

Newham antenatal classes and workshops for mums and dads-to-be

The Newham Parent Education Team provides a wide range of antenatal classes and workshops for expectant mums and birth partners. We would like you to get as much benefit as possible from our tailor made services. Our classes are informative, fun, interactive and will prepare you for birth and beyond.

These courses will be offered free to all Barts Health women and your birth partners if you are receiving care at Newham Hospital, Community Midwifery Practices or the Barking Community Birth Centre.

There is a high demand for antenatal classes, spaces are limited so please book early from 24 weeks. Please telephone or email your requests.

Phone: 0207 363 8026
E-mail: newhamparenteducationteam@bartshealth.nhs.uk

  • Antenatal Classes: Are five week evening classes or two day intensive courses. These sessions include stages of labour, relaxation, pain relief, caring for your new baby, life as new parents and more!
  • Waterbirth Workshops: Discover how labouring or giving birth in water enables you to have a gentle birth.
  • Relax for Birth Sessions: Learn how relaxation empowers you for labour and birth.
  • Maternity Unit Tours including Barking Community Birth Centre
  • Dadi Antenatal Day: A uniquely designed Antenatal class for expectant fathers to become empowered to support their partners during labour and beyond.
  • Breastfeeding Workshops: These workshops are definitely for you if you are considering breastfeeding or want to learn more about infant feeding. Breastfeeding Groups are for antenatal and postnatal women.

Your birth

At Barts Health NHS Trust you can choose to have your baby at one of our tranquil birthing units or in the comfort of your own home cared for by experienced midwives; or in one of our labour wards with doctors close at hand. For some women giving birth in hospital will be the safest option.

Further information on the place of birth choices are outlined below:

  • Home birth
  • Freestanding midwifery unit 
  • Alongside midwifery unit 
  • Obstetric unit

Please discuss your preferred place of birth with your midwife or doctor.

Our maternity information leaflets providing detailed advice on specific situations, conditions and choices can be found in the patient leaflet A-Z, under ‘M’ for maternity.

Alongside Midwifery Unit

Barts Health NHS Trust has two Birth Centres that are located within our hospitals. These are the Lilac Birth Centre at Whipps Cross and the Newham Birth Centre at Newham.

Our co-located birth centres are midwifery-led units which provide a relaxed environment and experienced midwives to support you to have a natural labour and birth. Each month around 85 babies are born in Lilac Birth Centre and approximately 120 babies arrive per month within the Newham Birth Centre.

The birth centres are suitable for women who have a normal, ‘low-risk’ pregnancy, go into labour between 37 - 42 weeks, and are expected to have an uncomplicated birth.

What we offer

  • High quality midwifery-led care during your labour and birth, in a welcoming ‘home from home’ environment.
  • Support and care after your baby is born, until you are discharged from hospital.

The birth centre midwives will take over your care when you come to the hospital in labour. Sometimes you may be assessed in the triage area first to check if you are in active labour.  You should inform the midwives when you arrive that you wish to give birth in the co-located birth centre. You can discuss this during your pregnancy with your community midwife and can record your wishes in your birth plan

Labour

Our experienced midwives will support you during your labour and birth to use varied positions, to help ease your discomfort and to encourage a natural birth process. You will be able to use water for your labour and birth if you choose. Some of our midwives are also trained in alternative therapies such as aromatherapy and Hypnobirthing which can often enhance the birth experience and reduce the use of traditional pain relief techniques.

Out of the five rooms at the Lilac Birth Centre two of them have birth pools and all nine rooms at Newham Birth Centre have birth pools.

Both birth centres provide access to ‘active birth’ equipment including birth balls, mats, and birth stools.

  • One-to-one midwife care
  • Clean and welcoming individual rooms where partners can stay
  • En-suite facilities
  • A television and / or stereo are available in the rooms
  • There are facilities where you can prepare your own drinks, as well as prepare formula feeds when required

Epidurals are not available on the birth centres. If you choose to have an epidural you will be transferred to the delivery suite (labour ward).

Post-birth

Once your baby is born we will support you in getting to know your newborn and preparing to return home. This will include:

  • breast feeding support and advice
  • full newborn examination prior to leaving hospital
  • newborn hearing screening prior to leaving hospital
  • discharge home usually between 6 and 24 hours after birth
  • follow up care will be organised with your local community midwife for once you have returned home

Visiting

Women can choose up to 2 birth partners to be with them during labour and birth. Please encourage other family and friends to stay at home until you call them with your news as there are limited waiting areas available in the hospital.

The staff at the Birth Centres want to ensure that partners, families and friends feel welcomed when they visit their loved ones. After birth, your partner and your own children are welcome between 8am and 8pm. Other guests wishing to visit are asked to come between 2.30pm and 8pm to enable families to rest and have some private time with their newborn. This also allows for midwifery care and assessments during the morning. 

At busy times the birth centre staff may ask you to limit the amount of visitors present at any one time.

Why choose a birth centre?

The ‘Birth place study’ research in 2011 found that birth centres are safe for women with ‘low-risk’ pregnancies. Women who planned to give birth at freestanding birth centres also had significantly fewer interventions during labour and birth, compared to women who chose obstetric units or co-located birth centres.

Women who choose birth centres generally have a greater chance of:

  • birthing naturally, with an
  • improved birth experience
  • reduced interventions
  • the need for pain relief decreased
  • higher breast feeding rates

Complications during labour / after birth

Our expert midwives are trained to detect problems as they arise, and to take action necessary to keep you and your baby safe. They will regularly monitor you and your baby. Any concerns would be explained to you so that you are involved in any plans and decisions made. 

Women who develop complications during labour or afterwards, or want epidural pain relief, will be transferred to the Obstetric Unit (Delivery Suite).  This will involve moving you to a different ward within the hospital.

Find out more

For women interested in delivering at Lilac Birth Centre, a tour runs on Tuesday afternoons. This is usually arranged by your community midwife and is run by the clinical pathway manager or one of the Birth Centre Midwives.

At Newham, we run a tour of the Maternity Department every Sunday at 3pm. There is no need to book for the tour, including a visit to the co-located Birth Centre. Anyone wishing to attend the tour should meet at St Andrews Wing (near the visitor car park) at 3pm where a midwife will be available to direct the tour.

Contact us

Lilac Birth Centre at Whipps Cross

  • Location:  Magnolia Ward , Zone 2, Floor 1
  • Switchboard: 020 8539 5522 extension 5395

Newham Birth Centre

  • Contact number: 020 7363 8778
  • Newham Maternity Helpline: 020 8090 9999 available Monday to Sunday, 10am-8pm

Visiting times

  • Husbands/partners 24/7
  • All other visitors, maximum of 2 at a time including the partner/husband 2pm - 8pm

Visiting time in larch postnatal ward:

  • Husbands/partners 8am-12 pm
  • Quiet time - 12pm-2pm 
  • All other visitors, maximum of 2 at a time including the partner/husband - 2pm-8pm

Freestanding Midwifery Unit

Barts Health NHS Trust has two freestanding midwifery units; The Barkantine Birth Centre (Isle of Dogs) and the Barking Community Birth Centre (Barking). Although not physically connected to a hospital maternity unit, the birth centres work closely with The Royal London and Newham.

At our Birth Centres, we know that the right support and environment can make a huge difference to you and your baby’s experience of labour and birth.

We want all our mums to have safe, positive and confident experiences of pregnancy, labour and childbirth and work hard to make this happen. The combination of our highly experienced midwives and our clean and comfortable facilities, provide a warm, welcome and nurturing stay for all parents and their new babies.

At the Barkantine we have helped mums give birth to over 2000 babies naturally. Our freestanding birth centres can each support up to 600 births a year each.

Our services are available for women who expect to have an uncomplicated pregnancy and who go into labour between 37 and 42 weeks.

If you are interested in having your baby with us, talk to your midwife, GP or you can contact us directly.

Use the links below to naviate to the different sections of this page.

What we offer

Our midwives can take over your antenatal care once you reach 36 weeks.

Pre-birth

To help you prepare for labour and birth, we provide:

  • active birth workshops including information on feeding and water birth
  • birth centre tours to familiarise yourself with the centre and rooms
  • 24 hour telephone support and advice

Labour

Our highly experienced midwives are trained in active birthing techniques such as water births and the use of varied positions for labour and birth. They are also experienced in supporting hypnobirthing.

All five rooms at Barkantine and two rooms at Barking have birth pools. Every room comes equipped with balls, mats, beanbags and stools.

To help you relax and focus during labour, we provide:

  • one-to-one midwife care
  • midwives experienced with water birth and birth in upright positions
  • clean and welcoming individual rooms where partners can stay. Each of our rooms come fully equipped with ensuite bathroom (some with disabled en-suite facilities), gas and air, (plus Pethidine if required) for pain relief, double bed, cot, sofa or armchair, and CD or iPod facilities, television (Barkantine only) and balcony (Barkantine only)
  • kitchen for women and staff to prepare meals, drinks and formula feeds when required

Post-birth

Once your baby is born, we can support you to establish breast feeding. Our expert breastfeeding counsellors are available to help if you need them. Further support for you during this new phase also includes:

  • postnatal follow-up care from a midwife
  • full newborn assessment within 72 hours of birth
  • 24 hour telephone support and advice
  • baby check clinics
  • local parents group support
  • breastfeeding drop in sessions

Most women who give birth at our birth centres go home within six to 24 hours.

Visiting

Women can choose who they would like to be with them during labour and birth. We suggest that you keep this to a small number to maintain a calm and quiet environment for birth and to ensure you have the support you need. Please encourage other family and friends to stay at home until you call them with your news as there are limited waiting areas available at the birth centres.

Your partner and your children are welcome to visit at anytime and there are double beds in each room to enable your partner to stay with you and your baby overnight. Other guests wishing to visit you are asked to come between 8am and 8pm.

At busy times the birth centre staff may ask you to limit the amount of visitors present at any one time.

Why choose a freestanding midwifery unit?

The ‘Birth place study’ research in 2011 found that midwifery units are safe for women with ‘low-risk’ pregnancies. Women who planned to give birth at freestanding midwifery units also had significantly fewer interventions during labour and birth, compared to women who chose obstetric units or alongside midwifery units.

Women who choose birth centres generally have a greater chance of:

  • birthing naturally, with an
  • improved birth experience
  • reduced interventions
  • the need for pain relief decreased
  • higher breast feeding rates

Complications during labour / after birth

As a midwife-led service, there are no specialist doctors such as obstetricians, paediatricians or anaesthetists on site. For this reason, the freestanding birth centres are only suitable for women with normal, ‘low-risk’ pregnancies.

Our expert midwives are trained to detect problems as they arise and to take action necessary to keep you and your baby safe. They will regularly monitor you and your baby. Any concerns will be explained to you so that you are involved in all plans and decisions made. Often problems occur over a period of time, giving us plenty to time to act on warning signs.

In the event of any concerns or in an emergency women are transferred by ambulance to The Royal London Hospital from Barkantine or Newham University Hospital from Barking Community Birth Centre. Both journeys take approximately 15 minutes by ambulance. One of our midwives will accompany you.

At Barkantine between 2008 and 2013, most transfers were non-emergency. The most common reasons were meconium and prolonged labour.

Facts about Barkantine

Between 2008 and 2013 there were over 2000 births at the Barkantine Birth Centre. Of these:

  • 83 % of women used upright positions for birth
  • 73% of women used water in labour
  • 43% of women gave birth in water

Of the women who started their labour care at Barkantine:

  • 86% had a normal birth
  • 8% had an instrumental birth
  • 6% had a caesarean section

Transfer rates from the Barkantine during labour and soon after birth:

  • 28% overall (21% during labour / 7% after birth)
  • 42% women having 1st baby (33% during labour / 9% after birth)
  • 10% women having 2nd+ baby (5% during labour / 5% after birth)

Find out more

If you are considering your birth options, you can find out more by speaking with our midwives during a tour of the centre. You can tour either birth centre after your 20 week scan. To book onto a tour you can either contact us directly, or be referred by your GP or midwife team.

Please allow approximately one hour for the visit, which includes:

  • tour of the whole centre from a midwife
  • viewing of at least one of our rooms
  • question and answer session
  • introduction to our philosophy and how the centre works
  • the process in case of transfer and any emergencies

Contact us

Barkantine Birth Centre

Address:
121 Westferry Road
London, E14 8JH

Tel: 0207 791 8000
Fax: 0207 791 8001

Barking Community Birth Centre

Address:
Barking Community Hospital, 
Upney Lane, 
Barking, IG11 9LX

Tel: 020 3644 2450
Fax: 020 3644 2490

The Lotus Birth Centre

The Lotus Birth Centre is The Royal London Hospital's first midwife-led maternity centre for women with low risk pregnancies.

What is the Lotus Birth Centre?

The Lotus Birth Centre is a midwifery-led unit which provides maternity care to women with low risk pregnancies. 

Midwife-led units provide more individual, tailored care to women. The centre was created in response to local women who said they would like to give birth in a standalone midwifery-led centre but were concerned about the distance in case something went wrong.

The centre contains four birthing rooms named by local women who chose the cooking spices Cinnamon, Camomile, Juniper and Saffron. Every birthing room is en suite with a double bed and flat screen TV, plus a sofa for any visiting family or friends. 

The centre also contains:

  • The Bumblebee lounge for women attending for postnatal and antenatal care
  • A triage area for antenatal and postnatal care and women who attend The Royal London in the early stages of labour so they can go home again after being seen.
  • A milk storage room and a beverage room so parents can help themselves to drinks and store food from home.

I am proud that the centre has developed from what local women told us they wanted. We are providing women with the safe, compassionate care with the relaxed birthing experience they asked for and right on their doorstep where they wanted it.

— Lisa Greene, manager of the Lotus birth centre at The Royal London

Who is the Lotus Birth Centre for?

The centre is for women who are low risk and focuses on midwife-led care with less intervention. However, skilled staff including obstetricians and anaesthetists are not far away in case women need to be moved to high risk care.

Our specialist midwives are fully trained in supporting women to give birth naturally using water births, birthing positions and breathing techniques to control their labour, with gas and air to keep women as comfortable as possible.

Obstetrics Unit

At Barts Health we recognise that labour and birth are really important times for women and their families. Our skilled staff will support your individual birth choices with compassion and respect.

We have an Obstetric Unit on three of our hospital sites; The Royal London, Newham and Whipps Cross. They provide state of the art facilities with high quality care for women who choose to give birth there. 

An Obstetric Unit is the recommended place of birth for women with complicated pregnancies or those who go into labour before 37 weeks. They are also available for women who would like a natural birth experience with medical expertise close by.  

Each year our units support around thousands of births; 5000 births at The Royal London, 6800 at Newham and 5000 at Whipps Cross.

Use the links below to navigate to the different sections on this page.

What we offer

  • High quality obstetric-led and midwifery care during your labour and birth, in a welcoming environment
  • Access to experienced clinicians and excellent facilities
  • 24 hour access to a range of pain relief in labour, including epidurals
  • A high dependency unit for mothers who develop complications around the time of birth and require close monitoring
  • a Level 3 neonatal unit on each site for babies born prematurely or needing additional support after birth
  • Support and care after your baby is born, until you are discharged from hospital or to the postnatal ward (link).

The team will take over your care when you come to the hospital in labour. You may first be assessed in the triage area to find out if you are in active labour. 

Our team consists of:

  • consultant obstetricians / obstetric team
  • consultant anaesthetists / anaesthetic team
  • consultant neonatologists / neonatal team
  • midwives / midwifery assistants
  • operating department practitioners / theatre nurses
  • admin clerks
  • housekeepers

Labour

Our experienced midwives and obstetricians are here to support you during your labour and birth. 

We encourage you to write a birth plan in preparation for your labour to help the team be responsive to your wishes. Active birth equipment, such as birth balls, bean bags and birth stools, are available on each of our delivery suites. These can be used even if you require continuous monitoring of your baby during labour, so please ask your midwife.

Facilities on our three sites include:

  • Triage areas
  • Induction of labour suites
  • Early labour suites
  • Birth rooms
  • Birth rooms with pools
  • Theatres
  • High Dependency Unit

We understand that labour and birth do not always go to plan. Specialist staff and excellent facilities are available to cover all eventualities for both you and your baby. We strive to ensure that all plans for your care are clearly discussed with you so that you are actively involved in all decisions.

As a Tertiary referral centre, our highly skilled team are also able to provide care for women with complex pregnancies. In some circumstances, this will include working with colleagues from other medical and surgical teams.

Post-birth

Once your baby is born we will support you in getting to know your newborn and preparing to return home. This will include:

  • breast feeding support and advice
  • full newborn examination prior to leaving hospital
  • newborn hearing screening prior to leaving hospital
  • follow up care will be organised with your local community midwife for when you have returned home

Visiting

Women can choose up to two birth partners to be with them during labour and birth at any time of the day or night. Please encourage other family and friends to stay at home until you call them with your news as there are limited waiting areas available in the hospital. 

During your stay on the delivery suite, visiting is limited to your birth partners only in order to maintain safety on the unit. Other relatives and friends will be able to visit you on the postnatal ward.

For visiting times to our wards please visit the visiting our wards section on our website.

Why choose an obstetric unit?

We are very proud of our three obstetric units and our state of the art facilities. The obstetric unit teams are highly skilled and can deal with any event during labour and birth, from normal to births that require medical assistance.

Should you require support from our obstetricians, anaesthetists or neonatologists during your labour or birth, you will not need to be transferred to another ward as staff on the unit are available on the delivery suite 24 hours a day.

Find out more

Maternity tours are done on all of our sites so that you can see the facilities available to you before your labour and birth.

Tours at The Royal London

Tours are carried out every Thursday at 5.30pm. There is no need to book, a midwife will meet you at the East Mount Street entrance to the hospital and ask you to sign a register before taking you on the tour. Bengali-speaking tours are also available on the first Monday of each month at 10am.

Tours at Newham

Newham Hospital host a tour of the maternity unit at 3.00pm every Sunday. To book a place please contact the Maternity Helpline on 020 8090 9999.

Tours at Whipps Cross

Tours are carried out every Tuesday at 6pm. You will need to book a place. To find out more and book please call 0208 539 5522 ext 5044.

To view site maps of all of our hospitals, visit the our hospitals section of the website and select the hospital you require.

Contact us

The Royal London Delivery Suite

Location: 6th Floor (Wards 6E and 6F) via core lift 9
Tel: 020 3594 2364 / 0203 594 2365        

Newham Delivery Suite

Location: Zone 4, First floor
Tel, Triage: 020 7476 4000 Ext 8289
Delivery suite: 020 7363 8737 / 0207 363 8137 
Maternity Helpline: 020 8090 9999 (Monday to Sunday 10am-8pm)

Whipps Cross Delivery Suite

Location: Purple Zone, Ground Floor
Tel: 020 8539 5522 extension 5061 / 5068

Homebirth Team

Homebirth

Tower Hamlets has a dedicated team to support women interested in birthing their baby at home. If you’re having a normal, healthy pregnancy and want to birth your baby in a place that’s safe, comfortable and convenient, homebirth could be a great option for you.

A named midwife will care for you throughout your pregnancy, labour and afterwards, in your own home. You and your midwife will get to know each other really well, and you’ll also meet the three other members of the team during your pregnancy. Your midwife will schedule your appointments at times to suit you and the only time you’ll routinely need to go to the hospital is for your scans.

 To download the self-referral form, please click here.

Some questions you might have…

Isn’t it safer to give birth in a hospital?

Actually no, evidence from the Birthplace Study1 shows that for women having their second or subsequent baby, home is the safest place with lower rates of intervention like episiotomy and instrumental birth. For first time mums, it’s just as safe for the woman but there is a slightly higher risk of serious injury to the baby, although this risk is still very small at 9 per 1000 babies.

What is if there is an emergency?

Few emergencies in childbirth are immediately life threatening, and those that are your midwife is trained to respond to. But if we agree the safest thing is to transfer you to hospital, we’ll call an ambulance and be there before you know it.

What about the mess?

Despite what you’ve seen on TV, there’s really not much mess. We’ll help you prepare your birth space to avoid any accidents on sofas or carpets and of course we’ll clean up before we leave.

What if I can’t cope with the pain?

No problem, we have plenty of strategies. Lots of women like to use a pool and we can lend one to you. We also carry gas & air and support alternative therapies. And of course if you decide you want an epidural, we’ll head off to the labour ward and get one arranged.

What if I just change my mind when labour starts?

Nothing is set in stone! When you go into labour we’ll come and visit you at home to see how you’re doing. At this stage you can decide whether to stay put or head into the birth centre or hospital.

What if I’m already half way through my pregnancy?

That’s fine; you can join us at any time. Women who start their care with us early on probably get the greatest benefit as we’ll have lots of time together, but just contact us when you’re ready.

What if I have a medical problem or previous difficult birth?

You’re not alone; very few women have no medical history or ‘problems’. Get in touch so we can talk it through and make a plan that is both safe and meets your needs.

Get in touch

Come along to our monthly event to meet the homebirth midwives, other families planning to birth at home and those that have recently done so. We will be at the Mile End Children’s Centre, E3 4GY on the last Monday of every month from 1-4pm. No need to book, just come and join us for some tea and chat!

You can email us: THhomebirth@bartshealth.nhs.uk or contact us via the Barkantine Birth Centre on 0207 791 8300. We also have a self-referral form which you can send to us via email or give to your community midwife. 

 

My Body Back maternity

The My Body Back maternity clinic at The Royal London Hospital is the first designated maternity clinic for rape and sexual violence survivors worldwide, and we’ve created a different birthing pathway to ensure that our patients receive tailored, sensitive care.

Working with My Body Back Project - an independent organisation working with women who have experienced sexual violence - we’ll be offering the following services:

  • Ante-natal classes
  • Pregnancy care and examinations
  • Care during labour and birth
  • Breastfeeding advice
  • Specialist advice on ensuring mental wellbeing during labour
  • Post-natal gynaecological exams
  • Post-natal mental health support
  • Pre-pregnancy support for women who want to conceive

Who can attend

Any UK residents can attend our clinic. You can visit us from anywhere and health professionals are welcome to refer any UK based patients.

How to book: Email us at maternity@mybodybackproject.com

Find out more about My Body Back Project

You and your baby

After your birth you will continue to receive care from our experienced team of midwives and maternity care assistants on one of our postnatal wards or in our birth centres.

Getting to know your baby and building a close relationship is important and will be supported by staff. Ask for help with skin-to-skin contact, safe sleeping and responsive feeding.

A midwife or care assistant will offer to help you to start breastfeeding in the first hour after your baby is born. Your baby will be kept with you at all times and will be in a cot beside your bed. All staff are trained to help you with your baby.

Further information on the care and support available after you have had your baby is available below:

Feeding your baby

If you decide to breastfeed you will be shown how to hold your baby and how to help them latch on – this will make sure they get enough milk and that feeding is not painful. You will be given advice about how to breastfeed and how to make enough milk for your baby. Staff will offer to show you how to express your milk by hand. Your baby will not be given water or formula milk unless there is a medical reason.

You will receive information about the support available for breastfeeding once you leave hospital. Make sure you have the information leaflet before you leave.
If you decide to bottle feed, staff will support you. They will ask if you want to be taught to make formula feeds and will give you information on formula feeding.

 

Going home

When you are ready to go home may vary depending on the type of birth you have had and whether there are any complications for you or your baby. If you have a normal birth and you and your baby are well, you will be able to go home quickly about 6 – 8 hours after the birth. If you need to stay longer you can discuss this with your midwife who will keep you informed of your care plan. Before you leave the midwife will give you a discharge pack and explain this to you. It includes a variety of information that you may find useful including how to register your baby.

Transitional care / Neonatal Unit

Sometime babies require extra care and treatment following the birth. This may include extra observations to ensure they are not becoming ill, monitoring of their blood sugar levels if you have Diabetes or they may need treatment to prevent or treat infections and jaundice. Most of this care can be given with the baby by your bedside in Transitional care which is part of the postnatal ward. Babies may stay from just a few hours to five days in Transitional care. The care is providing by midwives, specialist nursery nurses and healthcare assistants to support you and your baby during this time.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

When a baby is born very early or requires specialist support for breathing or other specialist care, the baby will be admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. If your baby is admitted here you will be able to visit as often as you want and help care for your baby. Your baby may need to stay for a long period and if you live far away accommodation may be available locally for you. Staff will give you information and support so that you can express your breastmilk for your baby if not yet breastfeeding.

Newborn examination and screening tests

After your baby is born the midwife will carry out some initial checks to make sure your baby seems healthy. A more detailed physical examination, within 72 hours of the birth, will be performed by a specially trained midwife or doctor. This can help identify health concerns at an early stage and identify babies more likely to have conditions that need investigation. Most babies who have the physical exam are healthy and most problems are minor and do not need significant treatment.

For the small number of babies who have serious problems, there are a lot of benefits of having these identified as soon as possible. Early treatment can improve the health of the baby and prevent disability.

Hearing screening is offered to all newborn babies. This is important as one to two babies in every 1000 are born with a hearing loss in one or both ears. Early identification is known to be important for the development of your child. Hearing screening will either be performed while you are in hospital, or an appointment will be arranged for your baby to attend a clinic after you have gone home. Information on hearing screening can be found at: www.hearing.screening.nhs.uk

Newborn blood spot screening is offered to all newborn babies and is performed between five to seven days of age. This blood test is performed to identify babies who may have rare but serious conditions. Early treatment can improve their health and prevent disability. Information on blood spot screening can be found at:  www.newbornbloodspot.screening.nhs.uk

Community midwifery services

When you are leaving the hospital it is important that the midwife has correct details of your address and telephone numbers. The discharging midwife will inform the community midwifery teams where you live that you are home.  Please make sure you inform the midwife if you will be staying at a different address temporarily.

After you go home (or after a home birth) you will receive care and support from your local community midwifery team. The midwives will check both you and your baby to ensure that you are healing after the birth, that your baby is feeding well and give you advice during the early days with your baby. They will visit you at home in the first instance, then some of your follow up care will usually be a Postnatal clinic. The postnatal clinics are held at children’s centres / birth centres / group practices and a midwife will see you and your baby there at an agreed time.

If you have not been contacted by a midwife after being home for 24 hours please contact the community midwifery team for your area.

For The Royal London

Community secretary: 020 3594 2557 
Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm (Answerphone also available for messages). 
At weekends or out of hours contact the Delivery Suite: 020 3594 2364

For Newham

Newham maternity helpline: 020 8090 9999 
Monday to Sunday, 10am – 8pm

For Whipps Cross

Community secretary: 020 8539 5522 ext. 4692. 
Monday to Friday 9am-5pm (Answerphone also available for messages)

Breast feeding support

What happens in your baby’s first year has a big effect on how healthy he or she will be in the future. Mum’s milk gives your baby all the nutrients they need and getting help and support with breastfeeding is a good idea for all new mothers not just for those having difficulties.  You will receive information about the support available in your area for breastfeeding when you leave hospital. Ask your midwife and health visitor for information leaflets on local breastfeeding groups.

Some of support groups and services available in our local area include:

Tower Hamlet Breastfeeding Support

This group provides support on antenatal and postnatal care. These services are fully accredited by the UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative. This worldwide standard recognises work which supports, promotes and protects breastfeeding. Drop in groups are held at children’s centres and Barkantine Birth Centre.

If you have any questions or concerns about breastfeeding at any stage, or would like a home visit (usually for babies under one month) please call or text the team. 079 6160 9626 or 020 3594 2591 and leave a message Monday to Friday.

Newham Breastfeeding Drop-in Groups

A drop-in group for antenatal and postnatal advice and support. These services are working towards UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation and all children’s centres are breastfeeding friendly. Ask your midwife for an information leaflet.

Call Yohana Wade on 020 3373 0286 Monday to Friday 9am–5pm for information on group times only.

Redbridge Infant Feeding Team

A team whom provide for antenatal and postnatal advice and support. These services are working towards UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation and all children’s centres are breastfeeding friendly. Breastfeeding Café’s open across the area ask your midwife for an information flyer or call the team.

Contact the team from Monday to Friday 9am-5pm on: 020 8822 4157 or by text: 077 0291 9345 or email: nem-tr.infantfeedingteam@nhs.net.

Waltham Forest children's centres

All children’s centres are breastfeeding friendly and ask your midwife for information on local groups and café’s.

If you need information or support with breastfeeding in the evenings or at weekends please call:

National Breastfeeding Helpline: 030 0100 0212
BfN Support in Bengali/Sylheti: 0300 456 2421
Open from 9.30am - 9.30pm 365 days a year.

Health Visiting Team

The midwives will hand over the care of you and your baby to the Health visiting team around 2 weeks after your baby’s birth. Your health visitor will contact and visit you at home, usually between 10 and 14 days after your baby was born. You will then be able to attend a local baby clinic. The health visitor will provide advice and support in your baby’s early months and years about your baby’s development, eating, sleeping, immunisations and much more. Ask you health visitor for information on your local children’s centres and other parenting groups.

Find out more aout our dedicated Heath Visiting Service here.

Children’s Centres

Children’s centres offer a wide range of services, activities and support for children aged 0-5 years and their families. Find out about your local Children’s centres and the groups and services they provide.

Whipps Cross discharge video

If you have delivered your baby at Whipps Cross, watch this discharge video for useful information about caring for your baby once you have taken them home. You will have also been given a discharge booklet by the Whipps Cross maternity team which gives additional information.