Homebirth service suspended at West Sussex hospitals

The homebirth service offered by hospitals in West Sussex has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday, 17th April 2020, 1:36 pm
Updated Friday, 17th April 2020, 1:39 pm
The homebirthing service has been suspended

Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – which runs St Richard’s Hospital, Worthing Hospital and Southlands hospital – announced it had made the ‘very difficult decision’ to suspended the service in a letter dated April 15.

The main reason behind the decision was ‘the safety of our women and midwives at this uncertain time’, the trust said.

Pregnant women will instead be able to give birth in maternity unit rooms at the hospital which have been adapted to be more ‘homely’.

The letter read: “We understand that the decision to plan a home birth was really important to you and we want to reassure you that giving birth in the maternity unit will follow the same guidance that our community midwives would have followed in the community setting.

“To this end our community midwives have revamped two of our birthing rooms on our Worthing hospital site to make them more homely and we already have the birth centre at our Chichester hospital site.

“We would encouraged you to bring in everything you need to make the birth environment feel as close to home as possible.

“Your positive birth experience is important to us and despite this change we will continue to empower you and in doing so encourage you to make the environment your own a place where you feel happy, by adjusting the lighting, adding family photos, playing music, using oils, etc.

“Our community midwives will still be available to offer you a ‘domino birth’ by which we mean the community team will be with you for your birth and will aim to make preparations for you to leave the maternity unit and go home with your baby within a few hours of birth if this is what you wish.

“We will supply you with links for any further support you may feel you need, including feeding and emotional support.

“We appreciate your understanding at this difficult time when we have to make decisions beyond our control.”

Anyone affected is encouraged to contact the trust if they want to discuss their options further.

To speak to West Sussex Maternity Voices Partnership, a service user voice, email [email protected]

Have you been affected? If you would like to share your experience, email our reporter at [email protected]

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