Giving Birth - in Our Labour Ward
Our labour ward is for women who want to give birth with the support of our obstetric doctors and midwives, with the option to use our 24-hour epidural service.
Care is individually tailored to your needs and we offer a range of specialist equipment including birthing pools, mats, bean bags, stools and balls in our delivery rooms. Birthing pools are available for a water birth or to make you comfortable during labour.
What we offer
Our labour ward offers:
- One to one midwifery care
- Direct access to obstetric doctors if your labour becomes complicated
- Direct access to anaesthetists (who will help you to choose the appropriate pain relief in labour, such as epidural)
- Neonatologists (specialists in the care of newborn babies) and a highly acclaimed neonatal and special care baby unit if your baby requires any specialist help after birth
- Access to an adult intensive care unit in case you require specialist help around the time of your baby's birth
After the birth you and your baby will stay with our team on the labour ward for a couple of hours before moving to our postnatal ward (Cellier). Women usually stay overnight and go home after seeing a midwife, neonatologist and obstetrician (if you have had surgery or a medical issue) the next day.
While you are with us we can answer any questions you might have and support you with breastfeeding (if you choose to do this) and caring for your baby.
When you go home you are transferred to the care of our community midwives.
Women who choose our labour ward have a range of pain relief therapies available to them including:
- Gas and air (Entonox - a mixture of oxygen and nitrous oxide gas)
- Complementary therapies such as hypnobirthing and acupuncture
- TENS machine (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)
- Intramuscular injection (into the muscle of your thigh or buttock)
Epidural anaesthesia, often referred to as 'an epidural', is an injection in the lower back that numbs the nerves and helps stop you feeling pain. If you choose to have an epidural the procedure is carried out by an anaesthetist. Women who choose this option are cared for on our labour ward.
A caesarean section is an operation to deliver a baby. It can be planned (if a medical need for the operation becomes apparent during pregnancy) or carried out in an emergency (if a medical need arises during labour). Caesarean sections are carried out by our labour ward team in our specialist obstetric theatres.
If you plan to have a caesarean section, our enhanced recovery programme helps you prepare in advance, so you can play an active role in your recovery and return home to your family sooner. The aim is for women who have an uncomplicated caesarean section delivery to return home the day following surgery, compared to the usual 48-hour stay.
Find out more on our enhanced recovery after caesarean section.
If you have chosen to have your baby at home or in our birth centre and you require the assistance of an obstetric consultant, you may be transferred to our labour ward. Your midwife will discuss this with you if they feel it is appropriate.
Some of the common reasons for being transferred to our labour ward include:
- Asking for an epidural
- Slow progress in labour
- Thick meconium (when baby passes their first stool in their water)
- Foetal distress (when baby is unhappy in labour)
Choosing our labour ward
Our labour ward is suitable for women who would like to have an epidural, or have experienced obstetric or medical complications during their pregnancy. This can include women who have had previous caesarean sections, medical illness, if you are expecting twins, or if your baby is breech (lying feet first).
Your midwife or obstetrician will discuss all of your birth options with you and may recommend that you give birth on our labour ward.
Labour ward, Level 3, Kenwood Wing, The Whittington Hospital, London N19 5NF
Contact: 020 7288 5502
Last updated07 Nov 2022