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Campaign group sets out to promote midwife-led units

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A group of midwives and campaigners has launched an initiative to promote giving birth in midwifery-led units and ensure they are no longer “a too well kept secret”.

The Maternity Unit Network, which is supported by the Royal College of Midwives, celebrated its official launch today.

“Midwifery units are still too well kept a secret”

Sheena Byrom

It was set up to support the development of more midwife-led units and work with established birth centres to share learning and good practice.

The network was established by four passionate advocates of midwifery services, including practising midwife Sheena Byrom, who became one of the UK’s first consultant midwives and was awarded an OBE for her services to the profession.

The other network leads are clinician and academic Lucia Rocca-Ihenacho, a consultant midwife in public health at St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust, Felipe Castro, consultant midwife in normality and public health at Barts Health NHS Trust, and parent advocate and health researcher Mary Newburn.

Speaking at the launch, Mr Castro said the group’s vision was for midwifery units to become the “mainstream option” for women with uncomplicated pregnancies.

“We need everyone to know about their local midwifery unit, what it offers and how to book their care there,” said Ms Byrom.

“Midwifery units are still too well kept a secret. We also want to assist maternity services who are looking to develop midwifery-led units by providing resources on our website and connecting them with established successful midwifery units,” she added.

The network is being developed in collaboration with the RCM’s Better Births Initiative. The project is supported by an advisory group made up of healthcare academics, maternity experts, service managers, commissioners and representatives from public health and NHS England.

The network’s reach will also extend outside the UK through a European group led by City University London, which will build links and share knowledge across the EU.

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