A TEAM of maternity staff which has been praised for making a difference through its work has opened its doors to spread the word about what it does.

Hexham General Hospital’s maternity team was awarded with the Making a Difference Award at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s Building a Caring Future Staff Awards in October last year.

Last week two mums who have given birth at the unit this year headed back to chat to the midwives about their experiences, while the staff took time to show the Courant around and explain how the unit works.

Senior midwife Allison Duthie explained that Hexham was a midwife-led unit geared up to low risk pregnancies. Where complications arise and a woman needs to be monitored by a doctor, they would then be transferred to the RVI in Newcastle.

“The message we have got to get across is that people say ‘they don’t deliver first time babies at Hexham’, but actually we do and less than one third of women get transferred,” she said.

“If they were to get transferred, it would be within the eight minutes emergency ambulance response time, and they would be accompanied by a midwife and met by a paramedic.

“First time mums do really well here – particularly in the pool.”

Allison delivered April Macintyre’s baby, Alfie Little, on January 25. April, from Hexham, is a first-time mum, and spent some of her time in labour in the pool room.

“I didn’t want to go to Cramlington because it’s really busy I felt like they wouldn’t have the time, it didn’t seem like what it is here,” she said.

“It’s just so much more laid back here; it was amazing.”

One of the things the team was praised for when it received its award was its collaborative work.

Midwives are adopting a team approach, meaning women get to know members of their team throughout their pregnancy, increasing the likelihood that they will then receive care in labour from a midwife they know.

Joanna Avayanos-Batten had her third child Lola at the unit on February 9, deciding to return after a positive experience when she had her second child Alice, and she found it helpful that she knew many of the staff. She said: “It was the environment here which made me want to come back.

“I was looking forward to seeing everyone and as soon as I came in with Lola everything just seemed really relaxed and I felt content.”

Joanna also used the pool room during her labour, whereas other women opt to use the Febromed room – where specialist equipment is housed to keep women mobile and upright during their birth.

Joanna was keen to use hypnobirthing techniques she had previously practised, and felt the relaxing atmosphere of the pool room also helped with this.

“It was such a lovely experience,” she said. “It helped to be able to move around and Kath (one of the midwives) allowed me to walk around the corridors. It was so peaceful and being able to look out the window was amazing.

“I would just encourage women to try and come here whether its their first, second or third birth, even if the first doesn’t go as planned.

“I would also encourage women who are not sure to come in and have a chat. I have never been turned away and never had anyone say we are too busy or don’t have the time – and I am the type of person who likes someone there saying ‘you’re going to be okay’.”