THERE will be drama, emotion and tender, touching moments in a new BBC series that follows Bradford’s midwives as they deliver babies in people’s homes.

Requests for home births increased during the pandemic, with more and more women choosing to give birth in the comfort of familiar surroundings rather than in a hospital.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

In five-part series Yorkshire Midwives on Call, viewers will follow the home birth team at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as they help women and their partners through the intense and life-changing experience of welcoming a baby into the world.

Filming for the show came at a time when the team’s caseload doubled, largely off the back of the Covid pandemic.

Laura Hughes heads up the team and spoke to the Telegraph & Argus ahead of the show’s premiere on Easter Monday.

She said: “It’s an incredibly busy job, no two days are the same, which brings around its own stresses but also a massive amount of job satisfaction.

Laura with a newborn

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

“There are some massive, massive high points, it’s a job that we’re really invested in, so that brings massive highs, but also low times as well when things are tough and we’re under a lot of pressure.

“We really hope the show is going to give people an insight into what’s available. I think a lot of people don’t even know that home birth is something that’s an option available to them and it might just encourage people to think about it, who wouldn’t necessarily have thought about it before.”

While not all families wanted to open up their lives for the television series, Laura said she and her team help women from all walks of life and backgrounds give birth at home.

For those that were happy to be filmed, viewers will get an insight into their families, why they made the decision to have a home birth, plus a look at how the midwives work together as a team.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Steph and LeannaSteph and Leanna

Laura said: “It’s not the sort of maternity programme I’ve seen before, they often concentrate very closely on the labour and birth, which actually is one day out of a nine or ten-month journey women have with their midwife. Hopefully it provides a different perspective.”

The series captures the special moments the midwives deliver the babies of women they’ve looked after throughout their pregnancy.

“That’s one of our real highlights,” said Laura. “When it all comes into alignment and it’s the midwife that’s looked after that woman then that’s a really, really nice birth experience.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Midwife Gemma, with Miriam and baby OscarMidwife Gemma, with Miriam and baby Oscar

“There’s a couple of births I go to that are just absolutely out of this world.

“I’ve always said there’s a real spectrum of what people want from a home birth, we get women who are birthing at home for logistical reasons, then at the opposite end of the spectrum, we have women who put a massive amount of thought into what they want their birth experience to be like.

"When you’ve looked after someone in pregnancy, you get to know what they’re hoping for, you’re riding along with them while they’re working out what is going to be this experience that they’ve really got their fingers crossed is what they end up with.

“When you are then the midwife that’s there at the birth and you see that unravelling in the way that they’ve hoped, you know they’re getting what their hopes and dreams were, and that’s really special. That’s quite an emotional thing to be involved with.”
She added: “The kind of love that explodes in that room when that new person is born, you can’t put into words how special it is to be a part of that.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Mum Natalie with baby EaliasMum Natalie with baby Ealias

The series comes at a time when maternity care is under the spotlight following the recent Ockenden review into the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust – the UK’s biggest maternity scandal, which saw more than 200 baby deaths.

“Definitely in the light of Ockenden, I think the message that we are walking that tightrope between supporting choice, supporting women, being caring professionals and looking after them, but we’re also preserving safety, I think that’s really important,” said Laura.

In the first episode, three expectant mums are planning for home births. Midwife Michaela assists junior doctors Rebecca and Tim with a water birth for their second child.

Meanwhile, Keeleigh’s dream of a home birth hangs on baby number four, and Laura cares for her throughout. Finally, Jodie hopes to give birth in the comfort of her bedroom, with midwife Gemma by her side.

Laura believes there is a misconception about home birth and hopes the show will help to change that.

“People think they’re kind of just in their own house, going it alone, but you’ve actually got two midwives with you the whole time,” she said.

“We bring equipment, we’ve got emergency medication and everything we need and the training to be able to put that into practice at home.

"Yes, you aren’t in a hospital environment, but actually all of the training that goes into it is specific to looking after women at home. People don’t always get that, but when they see it unravel on the programme, hopefully, they’ll understand it a bit better.”

And what can people expect from the series?

“I think it’s a really warm, funny, heart-warming celebration of the families of Bradford and the women in Bradford who are choosing to give birth to their babies at home,” said Laura.