The Maternity unit at West Cumberland Hospital is an integral service to the Trust and the women and families of west Cumbria and beyond.

The busy unit at WCH operates a full range of antenatal and postnatal care, twenty four hours a day seven days a week to ensure pregnant people get the right service at the right time. The unit was praised by the Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) bi annual report earlier this year, when women and families gave high praise to the service and its staff.

The unit is spilt between the Delivery suite and the post-natal ward. The delivery suite was a purpose built unit opened during phase one of the redevelopment of WCH in 2015. The secure unit is modern and spacious and offers women and families a comfortable environment in which to give birth. 

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The ward is currently housed in the original hospital building but will relocate once phase two of the redevelopment of West Cumberland is complete next year.  This means a much improved environment for both patients and staff.   The upgrade of the post-natal ward, will mean more en-suite, private rooms with more space, allowing for birth partners to stay with the pregnant people for longer periods of time.  It will also mean birth partners can stay during the induction process, something which the unit is unable to offer at this time.     

Janet Riley Matron for Maternity Services at WCH said:

“We’re thrilled that our post-natal ward will be going into the new build next year, it’s a huge upgrade for us and means our women and families can experience just as lovely environment postnatally as they do on our delivery suite.”

The maternity unit at WCH also hosts specialist services such as neonatal transitional care and a bereavement service. 

The neonatal transitional care area is for babies who require some additional hospital care in the first few days of their lives. These areas have been developed to enable new mums to stay with their babies while they are being cared for. Having access to this service helps to support stronger bonding as the babies no longer need to be separated from their mothers while having care and lays the foundation for future relationships.

The areas are staffed by midwives with support from the Special Care Baby Unit, to provide additional support for babies who require tube feeding, intravenous antibiotics and those that are born a little early or those with a low birth weight.

Lyn Durrant, Assistant Director of Nursing for Children and Young People at NCIC, said: “We know that early bonding between parents and their babies is so important, and we always try to encourage this where possible.”

The Bereavement suite known as the ‘Bluebell suite’ is open to any families who sadly experience pregnancy loss, families are supported by Specialist Bereavement Midwife, Kerry Pape who offers support as well as practical advice to those in need. The suite was opened in early 2020 after local families helped to raise funds. The suite has a separate entrance away from the main delivery suite and parents can stay for as long as needed. 

The maternity unit is a popular choice for students and the teams at WCH are proud that they recruit and retain midwives, offering a preceptorship programme to newly qualified midwives to help support and guide them as they start their career.  

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Janet Riley, Matron explains:

“We are a small unit but we find students really enjoy their time with us, we make sure to support students and our newly qualified midwives as well as we possibly can. We’re pleased to say that this year we also have our first Midwifery apprentices, both students who have worked with us as maternity support workers and now started their training to become qualified midwives. A defined  career pathway for our very experienced and knowledgeable  maternity support workers.”

Janet continued:

“We have highly skilled midwives working on the unit and we’re always looking at ways we can further develop our workforce. One way we have done this is to support our midwives to extend their range of skills, many of the team can now carry out the Newborn Infant Physical Examination (NIPE).  This used to be performed by a paediatric Doctor, however we have supported our midwives in undertaking continuing professional development (CPD) modules, in order to embrace the NIPE role.”

The team who make up Maternity services at WCH consists of:

  • Obstetrics & Gynaecology Consultants  
  • Speciality Doctors
  • Hospital & Community Midwives
  • Maternity Support workers
  • Specialist Midwives (Infant Feeding, Bereavement & Antenatal screeners) wellbeing midwife, practice development midwives and fetal monitoring midwives
  • Smoking cessation practitioners.

If you would like a sneak peak of the maternity unit at WCH please take a look at our virtual tour.

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