Midwifery Led Units (MLU)

Women are able to choose to give birth to their babies at a MLU if their pregnancy has been uncomplicated. Giving birth is generally very safe for both the woman and the baby (Birthplace, 2011).

Any risk factors that develop during the pregnancy may require assessment by a consultant obstetrician either at the Consultant Led Unit or in antenatal clinic or day assessment unit at Eastbourne DGH or Conquest Hospital. This may then mean that the MLU or home is no longer the safest option for your birth. Plans will then be discussed with you for the birth to take place in a consultant led unit such as at Conquest Hospital.

The Birthplace study, which looked at 64,000 low risk births showed that birth centres appear to be safe for the baby and offer benefits for the mother. For planned births in a MLU there is no significant difference in outcomes for babies, however women who had planned birth in a MLU had significantly fewer interventions (ventouse, forceps and caesareans) and more normal births compared to a Consultant Led Unit.

The majority of women that come to a MLU in labour will successfully give birth there – more than 60% of women with their first baby and over 90% of women who have had a baby before. This is also evident in the published literature for home births.

It is possible for you to have a tour around our MLU – Eastbourne Midwifery Unit – by arrangement.

Eastbourne Midwifery Unit (EMU)

Eastbourne Midwifery Unit is a Midwifery Led Unit (MLU) that is staffed and run by midwives. It offers a comfortable, relaxed and low-tech environment, where birth is a normal event. Pain relief is available at a midwifery led unit in the form of water, gas and air and Pethidine injections but not epidurals. There are no doctors available on this unit.

Any woman who has had an uncomplicated pregnancy and has no medical problems or conditions can give birth in a midwifery led unit.

Husbands or partners are welcome to stay overnight as there are single side rooms available. Although we are not able to provide beds, we do have some comfortable recliners. We are not able to offer husbands/partners food or drink so if you do intend to stay, please make sure that you bring money to use in the hospital restaurant/shops.

Most women will stay between 6 to 48 hours after the birth of their baby and this time would be spent on the unit. Women will be able to access the full range of post-natal support, including help and advice on caring for your baby and breastfeeding.
If women need to stay longer this will be facilitated and arrangements will be made on an individual basis but we do not expect this to happen very often as most women want to go home. Once you and your baby return home, your family will then be supported by your community midwife or have the option to come back to the MLU for your postnatal care.

Midwives are trained to monitor you and your baby throughout your labour and birth and if there is a concern during labour or immediately after birth concerning either you and/or your baby, arrangements would be made to transfer to the appropriate consultant led obstetric unit.

The paramedic ambulance service will treat any request by the hospital to transfer you in labour or with your newly born baby as an emergency. This will mean that an ambulance will transfer you as fast as possible. Your midwife will accompany you in the ambulance during this transfer. The paramedic ambulance staff are trained and able to support midwives.
Women who are not able to give birth at EMU are able to transfer in to enjoy a postnatal stay for care and support in the early days with their new baby.

Women and their partners are encouraged to come and tour the unit when they are considering where to give birth to their baby.

Other maternity services which are available at Eastbourne DGH include ultrasound scanning, consultant led clinics and the maternity day assessment unit.

For more information contact Eastbourne Midwifery Unit – Tel: (01323) 414911.

We provide this service at

Eastbourne District General Hospital

Kings Drive, Eastbourne
East Sussex, BN21 2UD
(01323) 417400