Did you know a team of dedicated midwives are bringing new life into the world on the Sunshine Coast?
Whether you’re giving birth at Clacton’s Coastal Birthing Unit, or at home, its team of midwives are on hand to support and care for low risk women and their babies.
There are 15 midwives, nine healthcare assistants, a midwifery support worker and a ward clerk at the unit, this also includes the midwifery team based at the Fryatt Hospital in Harwich.
Alexia Murray (pictured above) is team lead midwife for the Coastal Birthing Unit and community midwifery team. She has been based at Clacton since 2013.
In that time she has seen the team develop hugely and they are all there to offer support and care to families, some of whom are dealing with extreme social, economic and financial problems.
She said: “Everyone looks after each other, it’s a really nice team to work in.
“We have a full and varied case load, but the big bonus is we’re local so women don’t have to travel to Colchester Hospital for appointments. It’s very difficult for some families to travel due to the cost involved so we try to organise as much of their maternity care here as possible.
“We open on demand for births, our on-call midwives come in and open the unit when we know a woman is in labour. We also open early in the morning and late in the evening so people can come in before or after work for their appointments.”
Services offered at the unit, which is based at Clacton Hospital, include everything women will need, including:
- Antenatal appointments – which are also offered both out in the community and at GP surgeries
- Two consultant clinics a week for mums-to-be who are high risk
- Dating scans, 20 week scans and any growth scans a woman may need
- Preparing for baby workshops with health visitors once a month
- Pregnancy Circles
- Weekend hypnobirthing classes with midwives
- Antenatal classes for women who would prefer that option to hypnobirthing
- Postnatal clinics
- Whooping cough and flu vaccinations
- Hearing screening
The team also run a Facebook page where they share helpful information and photos of babies in their ‘I’m a Coastal Birthing Unit Baby’ vests which are given to families when a newborn arrives.
Louise Trotman (Pictured, below) has worked at the unit for six years as a midwife. She is also training to be able to carry out third trimester scanning, which will mean appointments can be offered more locally and support the sonographers at the unit.
She said: “We’re just unique here. We’re a very close team, the women really know that, the location is good and we look after each other which is important.
“Women get continuity and we’re all in it for the same reason which is to care for them. It’s a really good blend.”
A number of students also spend part of their training on the unit. Maddi Symmonds is one of them.
She is now in her third year and has thoroughly enjoyed spending time in the community with the Coastal Birthing Unit team. After waiting two years to witness a home birth, she was on hand to help with two in just one week in October.
Maddi (Pictured, below) said: “It’s so varied being here. I never believed breathing a baby out was a thing until I saw it here. I’m really lucky.
“I want to be a community midwife and I want to be here because the team is so nice.”
You can find out more about the team on Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/clactonmaternity/
“My experience was really, really positive”
New mum Alex Yewman, 27, had her first baby at Clacton’s Coastal Birthing Unit on 20 August.
She was cared for throughout her pregnancy by midwife Kerri Skinner.
Alex said: “It was incredible. I had Kerri for every single appointment and I know it sounds weird, but it felt like I was seeing my aunt – I love her.
“When we’d go to appointments she would make me laugh and calm me down, you’d almost forget why you were at the appointment.
“I had a really, really positive experience. It could not have been any better.”
On the week of her due date Kerri was away and Alex admitted she was “dreading” giving birth without her, but she needn’t have worried.
She was looked after by three other team members at the unit who she said were “just as lovely”.
Baby Penelope was born in the birthing pool a little over an hour after Alex arrived at the Coastal Birthing Unit. Both mum and baby are doing well, as these photos show.
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