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'At home' birth unit to open in two years.

Birthing pools and labour rooms designed to look like home will be available at a Welsh hospital when a new maternity facility is completed.

Building work will begin on Monday on the pounds 16m project at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff.

When the facility opens, in stages in 2009 and 2010, it should transform the experience of giving birth.

A nine-bed unit designed for midwife-led care will be equipped with three birthing pools and six "home from home" birthing rooms.

There will also be a consultant-led unit, with two new obstetric theatres for more complex births. The modernised in-patient accommodation will include 14 delivery rooms, a four-bed high-dependency area and bereavement suite.

The development, on the site of the women's unit, will include new facilities for IVF Wales, gynaecology, foetal medicine, an antenatal clinic and a maternity assessment unit.

Jane Herve, head of midwifery at Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, said, "This will be a wonderful new facility. Women using the services, and staff working in the various departments, will all benefit from the modern, light and spacious environment.

"Water births at Cardiff have become increasingly popular and it will be wonderful to have three birthing pools at UHW instead of one. The birthing environment is very important and the homely facilities in the midwifery-led unit are appreciated by women and their families."

New mother Anna Guina, 32, from Canton, Cardiff, said the hospital's existing birthing pool had helped when she gave birth to daughter Nell in August.

"It is so important to labour in comfortable surroundings and to have a positive experience on the post-natal ward," she said.

"I ended up with a C-section but I'm so glad I was able to spend my time in labour in an informal environment. An austere hospital room just wasn't for me and was one reason I had wanted a home birth.

"My daughter was breech towards the end of my pregnancy which scuppered my home birth.

"Luckily the pool room was free when I needed it. It was so relaxing, with ambient lighting, comfy seating and a deep, warm pool, that I resolved to stay there as long as possible.

"I'm pleased that there will be more pools in the new unit so that giving birth this way will be a real option for more women in Cardiff."
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 13, 2007
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