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Dolphin Suite

We are a Midwife-led Birthing Unit, situated right next to Delivery Suite, where those at low risk of complications in labour and birth come to have their babies.

Our aim is to provide care which is focused on the individual, in a comfortable and relaxed environment.

Our midwives will work with you to support you during labour and birth.

We believe that you are more likely to labour and give birth without complications when you feel in control, and so we support you to do what is right for you. 

A low lit, blue lit photograph of the Dolphin Suite pool bath

Why come to the Dolphin Suite to have your baby?

Research (The Birthplace Study, 2011) has told us that, for those with uneventful pregnancies, planning to give birth in a midwife led unit increases the chances that birth will be normal, with no effects on safety for either mum or baby. There is less chance that you will need an instrumental birth or caesarean section.

There is nothing unusual about having a baby in a Midwife led unit. It is where all those at low risk should come when they go into labour!

Why is this so?

Staying in a calm and relaxing environment helps your body to labour well. The hormonal changes that co-ordinate labour can be interrupted when we feel stressed or scared. 

A low-lit photo of the Dolphin Suite, with comfortable seating and other items to support those who are giving birth

What is different about the Dolphin Suite?

Our rooms don’t look like hospital rooms: all our medical equipment is kept out of sight, and there is no hospital bed. We use balls, mats and beanbags to help you to keep moving as we know that this helps labour work well. However, if you (or your partner) do need a rest, our big beanbags are very comfortable to lie down on.

We can dim the lights, again to reduce stimulation and help you to stay calm and focussed. Some people like music in labour so we have docking stations available for you to use.

We will encourage women to keep eating and drinking throughout labour to give you the fuel needed for such hard work.

A lot of those who come to the Dolphin Suite choose to use a birthing pool to help them. Some deliver their babies in the water; some choose to leave the water and give birth on the mats and beanbags. Most people enjoy the relief given by moving freely in warm water. However, you do not have to use the pool if you do not want to, we are happy to look after you on ‘dry land’ too!

What if I need painkillers?

Gas & air (Entonox) is available for your use, and your midwife will help you to use it if required. Some choose to have an injection of pethidine, which can be given whilst on the Dolphin Suite, although not in the water. Others will choose to have an epidural for which transfer to Delivery Suite is necessary. 

What if there are complications?

Your midwife will be constantly monitoring you and your baby to make sure all is well. She will discuss with you any concerns that arise and make suggestions as to how to manage them.

Sometimes, complications arise that mean involving medical colleagues is the best plan, so transfer to Delivery Suite will be arranged after discussion with you. Rarely emergency situations occur: all staff are trained to respond to emergencies, and medical assistance is immediately available on the Dolphin Suite for either Mum or baby.

What happens after birth?

Your midwife will assist you to feed and care for your new baby: we encourage skin to skin contact with your baby to help regulate their temperature and encourage feeding. We can get a cot for you if you require one.

Most mums go home after 4-6 hours, once they feel ready. We have a double bedroom that partners can use to stay with you if this is appropriate. Some need or choose to stay a little longer, so we arrange a bed on the postnatal ward. 

Who do I talk to about making a birth plan?

Your community midwife will have an individual discussion with you about planning the place of birth that’s best for you. If you would like to talk to midwife from the Dolphin Suite, think you may be in labour or would like to have look around the unit before birth please call us on the number below.

Telephone: 01493 453640

Please note, as a University Hospital, for learning purposes, we often have student midwives and medical students involved in the care of those using the Unit, with your consent. 

The Dolphin Suite ceiling, with star projection, low lighting and dolphin image on the wall

Comments from some of those who have given birth on Dolphin Suite:

‘I felt supported all the way through’

‘It was clean, tidy and helped reassure me that I was safe and comfortable’

‘An amazing experience, the relief from the water when I got in was immediate’

‘Great place to give birth!’

‘Bean bag was very comfy, found it easier to be out of water at pushing stage’

A tour of the Dolphin Suite

Please watch the video below to find out more about our facilities and see what the Dolphin Suite can offer.

The James Paget is currently one of a number of hospitals taking part in The Pool Study.

Please click on the image below for more information.

The Pool Study - please click for a PDF document giving more details or, if you are planning a water birth, please speak with your midwife

Dolphin Suite logo - a black line drawing of a woman and baby with two pale grey dolphins - one larger the other smaller- jumping as the backdrop

Lagoon Maternity Suite -a room with a large bath, faux candle lit with other items to help with the birth experience

Dolphin Suite - a room with comfortable seating and a pool bath