The first babies were born in Bradford’s new £1.2 million Birth Centre within hours of its opening yesterday.
The unit, at Bradford Royal Infirmary, caters for women with a low-risk pregnancy and birth, with all care provided by midwives.
The Birth Centre has seven en-suite rooms, two with birthing pools. With the emphasis on a natural birth with less pain relief, women are encouraged to be mobile during labour and use birthing aids such as birthing balls, stools, mats and slings.
The suites are all named and have a nature theme, corridors are curved and feature murals, and rooms have low lighting and iPods to offer a homely environment.
The first to be born was a 6lb 1oz baby boy at 5.15am. The boy, yet to be named, is a second son for 24-year-old Muniza Abowath, of Great Horton, Bradford.
The University of Bradford optometry student, also mum to three-and-half-year-old Abdullah, said: “It is really nice, spacious and airy and really comfortable. It is good for family that are in with you – there is more space to move around.”
Emma Woolner, 28, of Allerton, gave birth to her fifth child, a 7lb 9oz baby boy named Kayden, at 5.30am in the Hazel Room. Miss Woolner, also mum to Corey, seven, Alisha, five, Millie, four and 16-month-old Haris, was with her mum Karen Woolner, 50, and sister Charlotte Woolner, 27, who cut the cord.
Miss Woolner said: “I went into labour at about 4am and had him at 5.30am. It went very well and I really like it here. You feel more relaxed in here. It is like home-from-home. There is no interference and it is a lot calmer. I would recommend it to other women.”
Kayden was delivered by midwifery sister Ann-Marie Orr who said: “We have been looking forward to this day for a long time. A lot of people have put a lot of time and effort into this, so it is very exciting.
“It is about offering more choice to the women in Bradford.”
The adjacent consultant-led labour ward has also benefited from a full refurbishment and a new lift has been installed, linking birthing facilities with the post-natal wards in the floors above. A new bereavement room has also been created.
A further £400,000 has been invested in staffing levels and £2 million will be spent on the neo-natal unit, with work beginning in March.