We provide high quality healthcare services primarily to the residents of East Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen, which have a combined population in the region of 530,000.
On our Antenatal Ward we care for many women for a variety of reasons ranging from 20-42 weeks of pregnancy. Women who are admitted to the Antenatal ward can stay for varying lengths of time depending on the reason they have been admitted.
The ward is divided into three areas and each is staffed by our team of Midwives and Maternity Support Workers (MSWs) who are trained and highly experienced in providing complex antenatal care. The antenatal ward/induction suite comprises of a 16-bed ward, with a mix of 4-bedded bays and side rooms.
We regularly see women who are having an induction of labour or who have been admitted for closer monitoring, such as for raised blood pressure and diabetic complications related to pregnancy.
Women are asked to call the ward at 9am on the day they are booked to come in for induction of labour to arrange a time to attend. It is advised to bring your hospital bag, although you may wish to leave the baby’s items in a car or at home until you are in active labour.
Labour can be induced in a variety of ways:
This internal vaginal examination can be done in a variety of settings including antenatal clinic, in community clinics and on the antenatal ward/triage. You may be offered membrane sweeps prior to having an induction of labour booked.
A small hormone pessary attached to a ribbon is placed next to the cervix during a vaginal examination by a midwife or doctor on the antenatal ward. This can remain in for up to 24 hours to try and soften and dilate the cervix to allow for the waters to be broken.
In some cases of induction, we can offer the hormone pessary and allow you to return for 24 hours. This is termed outpatient induction of labour. (A set criteria must be met)
A hormone gel can be inserted behind the cervix following a vaginal examination by a midwife or doctor to try and soften the cervix to allow the waters to be broken.
Breaking the waters. If you have had a membrane sweep at an antenatal appointment the midwife or doctor may find the cervix is dilated enough to break the waters on the day you come into the hospital without the need of a pessary or gel.
We promote natural methods of pain relief such as water therapy- we have a large bathroom with a deep bathtub which is very effective during induction of labour and a great way to relax as labour begins (there are shared bathrooms in the bays and en-suites in the side rooms with showers for general use too). We have pain relief available should you require it during the induction of labour process. We try to encourage women to mobilise to help labour begin, this includes using the birthing balls available on the ward. Midwives and support workers can also assist in demonstrating hand expressing and harvesting colostrum. This is particularly useful during induction of labour to try and help the induction process be as effective as possible. Syringes for collecting colostrum are readily available on the ward for women to use throughout their stay. The colostrum can then be stored in a freezer on the ward ready for when your baby is born!
Women are monitored frequently whilst on the antenatal ward by midwives and MSWs; as such we encourage all women on the ward to report any concerns they have about themselves or their babies. Our team of obstetric doctors complete a ward round every day to see women who are unwell or experiencing complications to create an ongoing management plan for the remainder of the pregnancy and any necessary preparations for birth. They also review women having their labour induced when needed throughout the day and night.
Midwives on the antenatal ward also work closely with the wider team at Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre, including NICU. Being a level 3 NICU (providing the highest level of intensive care at the earliest gestations) means that we care for women on the antenatal ward from other hospitals in Lancashire and South Cumbria who may be likely to have their baby earlier than 37 weeks of pregnancy and require close observation for pre-term labour.
Antenatal Triage consists of two side rooms and two beds in our triage bay where we see women on an appointment basis. The Elective Caesarean Section bay is where women attend on the morning of their planned caesarean before they go to theatre to meet their little one!
Our antenatal triage department is open 24 hours a day 365 days a year and is run on an hourly appointment system. We are able to see women from 20 weeks of pregnancy onwards for a variety of pregnancy-related concerns. If you find that the line is engaged when you call please do call us back. If your call is urgent and you need to speak to somebody then contact Central Birth Suite on 01282 804233.
On the telephone, the midwife and a trained maternity support worker will ask a number of questions about your pregnancy and any previous pregnancies over the phone prior to offering you an appointment in the most appropriate department. It is important that you call the triage number in the front of your handheld notes before attending the hospital; this is so the midwife can ensure you are seen at the right place and time depending on your needs (the triage midwife may redirect you to your community midwife or GP where appropriate). Depending on the reason for attending triage, women may be booked for extra scans or follow up appointments in the antenatal clinic; they may also be admitted to the antenatal ward if required.
On average we perform 18 Elective Caesareans per week. We have an elective caesarean section area within the Antenatal department, ladies attend here on the morning of their caesarean section with their birth partner. Whilst here, they will see various members of staff such as doctors, members of the theatre team and the midwife and MSW who will accompany them to theatre. The midwife will discuss with women and their partners their preferences for their birth, such as whether they would like to have skin to skin in theatre and if they would like to have any photographs taken (filming is not permitted in theatre).