Jones, Pat, Phillips, Mari, Deery, Ruth and Ashby, Jo (2004) The impact and outcomes of the implementation of the Wakefield Birth Centre. Project Report. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK. (Unpublished)

In today’s western society childbirth takes place mainly in hospital settings and is under the
control of doctors (Kirkham, 2003). More recently there have been concerns about
increasingly high caesarean section rates (ref), the decreasing number of practising midwives
(Ball et al. 2002) and the worryingly small number of women experiencing a natural birth
(Page, 2003).
Maternity services at The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust provide for a social, cultural
and ethnically diverse community and manage 3,600 births per year. Following
reconfiguration in February 2002, including the relocation of hospital maternity services, the
trust decided to implement some of the Department of Health’s Action Plan and open a standalone
Birth Centre in Wakefield.
Birth centres are facilities that provide individualised and family centred maternity care, with
an emphasis on skilled, sensitive and respectful midwifery care. They provide a relaxed and
informal environment where women are encouraged to labour at their own pace. Birth
Centres seek to promote physiological childbirth by recognising, respecting and safeguarding
normal birth processes. This philosophy enables women and their families to experience a
positive start to parenthood (Shallow, 2001, Kirkham, 2003). Midwives are also able to
practise “real midwifery” (Kirkham, 2003, p.14).
The overall aim of this research was therefore to evaluate the impact and outcomes of the
implementation of the Wakefield Birth Centre.
The research was funded by the Centre for Health and Social Care Research (CHSCR) at the
University of Huddersfield. Ethical advice was sought through School Research and Ethics
Panel (SREP) at the university of Huddersfield and ethical approval was granted by the Local
Research Ethics Committee (LREC) and the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust Research
and Development.


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