skip to main content

Dolphin Suite

Dolphin Suite

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

Our aim is to provide care which is woman focused in a comfortable and relaxed environment.

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

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

Why come to the Dolphin Suite to have your baby?

Recent research (The Birthplace Study, 2011) has told us that for all healthy women 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 low risk women 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. 

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 women like music in labour so we have docking stations available for you to use.

We have a kitchen for families to use themselves, and will encourage women to keep eating and drinking throughout labour to give you the fuel needed for such hard work.

A lot of women who come to the Dolphin Suite choose to use a birthing pool to help them. Some women deliver their babies in the water; some choose to leave the water and give birth on the mats and beanbags. Most women 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 women 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 women choose to have an injection of pethidine, which can be given whilst on the Dolphin Suite, although not in the water. Some women 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 women 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 women 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

Dolphin Suite lead midwife: Kerry Gillard

Comments from women 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


45 Dolphin Suite

45 Dolphin Suite 2