Mr M & I were very keen to take the delivery suite tour offered by our trust. You can either take the tour as part of your parentcraft classes or as part of the "Stork Walk" which is offered every Sunday.
We were both quite anxious and neither of us really knew what to expect. I think we had built an image in our head of screaming women and people rushing around in panic. This wasn't the case!
Our tour began at the delivery suite. I think we both expected a ward layout with beds in bays but there were 14 individual rooms. Some rooms had a bed and a normal bathroom, whilst there were 2 rooms which contained a bed and birthing pools. These birthing pools were like longer and deeper versions of a bath. In the delivery suite are the doctors so should you experience any complications they are available. If you are signposted for consultant led care you will automatically go to the delivery suite.
Each room had a bed, chair and resus table where they carry out the checks on baby once they are born. There were also CD players and tea/coffee facilities. Whilst the rooms were quite clinical we both felt at ease. There were doors to rooms shut meaning they were occupied and we didn't hear any screaming (thankfully!).
We were then taken into the midwife led unit, this only contained 4 rooms, which was a little concerning to me and obviously other mums-to-be as someone asked why there were so few rooms and what would happen if they were all full. The midwife reassured us stating that since it's opening in August it had yet to be full and that the delivery suite had more pressure on beds. If the unit was full we would be transferred to the delivery suite.
The midwife led unit contained 2 rooms with beds and 2 rooms with birthing pools. These pools were much bigger than in the delivery suite and were a clover shape. In the rooms with the pools there were also birthing chairs, balls and other bizarrely shaped things which you can use through labour. The gas and air was located next to the pool. I was a little surprised there wasn't a bed but there were plenty of big chairs. The rooms with the beds were quite like the delivery suite however better decorated and less clinical. There was one couple in the midwife led unit whilst we were there and again no screaming was heard!
I have been signposted for midwife led care which means all being well I will hopefully give birth in the midwife led unit. Prior to the tour I had been sure I wanted to give birth on a bed however I have now put on my birth plan that I would like to try having a water birth. The rooms on both the delivery suite and midwife led unit were quite big so there was plenty of room for you to walk about and keep mobile, this is also supposed to help with labour and help baby move downwards rather than staying lying down.
Taking the tour also helped us see how long it might take to get to the hospital, where we can park and the different entrances to the unit, there is a main entrance and an out of hours.
We both felt reassured after the visit and it helped to alleviate some our worries. As with most things the image you build up in your head is always worse than the actual event, although I'm still convinced the pain of labour will be as bad as I am imagining!!