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St Thomas' sets up home birth team for Bermondsey & London Bridge

Pregnant women in parts of Southwark and Lewisham who are considering a home birth will now have support from a dedicated team of midwives.

The maternity services unit at St Thomas' Hospital has reorganised its community midwifery service so that expectant mothers planning to give birth at home will receive consistent support and advice from the same midwives over an extended period.

The Riverside team of community midwives cover the London Bridge, Bermondsey, Rotherhithe, Deptford, Brockley and New Cross areas.

Experienced in supporting women having home births, the midwives are also qualified to carry out newborn examinations, an essential assessment that would otherwise require an appointment with a GP or in hospital.

"For many women giving birth is very straightforward," says midwife Rebecca Brien.

"By building a strong relationship with the woman and giving her the information she needs at every stage of the pregnancy, we are able to help her feel confident, happy and ready to welcome her baby into the world where she feels safest and most comfortable."

Mira Mackey's daughter was delivered at home in 2010, with the support of community midwives. She is planning to have her second child, due in October, at home.

She says: "I got to know the team very well and felt incredibly supported throughout the pregnancy. The midwives are so kind and skilled.

"On the day my baby was born the midwife made it easy for me to concentrate on the labour and I felt relaxed knowing that she was busy making sure that everything was going according to plan. For me, giving birth at home was the calmest, safest place to be."

Pregnant women living in areas not covered by the Riverside team but within the catchment area of St Thomas' Hospital can also receive home birth support through the existing system.

Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust hopes to expand the model pioneered by the Riverside team to other parts of South London in future.

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