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Everything you need to know about giving birth at the RVI

From where to park down to what facilities and pain relief options are available, this is your comprehensive guide to giving birth at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI)



If you live in Newcastle, chances are you’re considering giving birth at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (or RVI for short).


In this blog post, I’m going to guide you through exactly what facilities and services the maternity unit at the RVI offers, from how to find it and where to park, right the way down to practical info like how many birthing pools are here and what pain relief options you have.


I'm also going to walk you through each of your choices and options for your birth at the RVI, the pros and cons of each, and give you some helpful insights into deciding if the RVI is the right choice for you and your birth - yes you have a choice!


By the end of this blog, you'll have a really good idea of what the maternity services at the RVI offer.


The information in this blog is up to date at the time of writing, but I would always recommend that you speak to your midwife for the most up to date information as things do change.


About the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI) Maternity Unit


The RVI is one of the largest maternity units in the North East and across the UK, caring for over 5000+ families per year. The unit looks after a significant number of families in the region and is well equipped to provide specialist support for those with more complicated pregnancies and medical conditions, and for babies who may require extra care after birth on the Neonatal unit.

 

At the time of writing this blog post, in person tours of the RVI 's maternity unit are not currently available so it isn't possible to have a look around. Please do check with your midwife for a more recent update on this.


The RVI post regular highlights via the Connie emidwife Facebook page which include monthly birth statistics. These stats give you a really good insight into the type of births taking place at the RVI. Most other NHS trusts also publish these stats.


Here is an insight into recent birth stats published by the RVI:

Broken down, this means there was:


0 babies born at home

0 babies born on the birthing centre

41% induction rate

41% c-section rate - 25% unplanned/16% planned

16% of births with no induction or c-section

2% water birth rate

9% assisted delivery rate


Whilst daunting, these figures are (sadly) extremely common place in modern maternity services and it's important to be informed about this. The RVI does care for a significant number of high risk pregnancies, but most other maternity units also have similar statistics.


How to find the RVI



The maternity unit at the RVI is easily accessible by car, bus or metro and is located in the Leazes wing of the hospital.


The Birthing Centre is located on level 3 and the Maternity Assessment unit and Delivery Suite are directly above on level 4, next to the antenatal clinic and the maternity wards.


The full address for your sat nav is


Newcastle Birthing Centre

Newcastle upon Tyne

Tyne and Wear

NE1 4LP


I would always recommend doing a 'trial run' to the hospital so you know exactly where you're going, where to park and where the entrance is. This is the last thing you want to be stressing about when you're in labour!


Parking


There are marked maternity bay parking spaces for when you arrive at the unit in labour and you do not need to pay for these. Just let reception know you have parked here.


There is also limited street parking on Richardson Road, and also in the main RVI multistorey car park off Queen Victoria Road.


How to contact the RVI


A midwife is always available to speak to you at the RVI 24hrs every day.


Before 37 weeks of pregnancy - call the maternity assessment unit on 0191 282 5748 if you have any concerns or think labour may have started


After 37 weeks of pregnancy - call the labour line on 0191 282 6363


For anything else, speak to your community midwife.

 

Your options for birth


You have three options available to you when giving birth under the Newcastle Trust.


You can choose to give birth at home, on the midwife led Newcastle Birthing Centre or on the consultant led delivery suite (labour ward).


Here, I’m going to break down the pros and cons of all these options, alongside the facilities and pain relief options that will be available to you in each location so that you can fully consider all of your options.


You might also want to check out my blog post on deciding where to give birth here!

 

Home birth

homebirth birthing pool set up

Choosing to give birth at home is the right decision for some families, particularly those who want a hands-off birth with minimal medical interventions.


Regardless of your ‘risk labels’, you have the right to give birth at home.


Please note that the time of writing this blog post, the home birth service in Newcastle is currently suspended


What this means is that the service is not currently up and running for those who live in Newcastle.


Whilst the trust must take your individual circumstances into consideration if you request a homebirth, as the service is suspended this does mean that in the event you ring the team in labour, an ambulance would most likely be sent out to you instead of a midwife from the trust.


The closure of homebirth services in Newcastle has been ongoing since the summer of 2023 and is due to significant staff shortages. Contact your midwife for the most up to date information on the situation.


If you would like more information on your homebirth rights, please do read this article from Birth Rights.


Pros of homebirth


  • Comfortable, private environment

  • One to one care

  • You’re more likely to see the same person throughout your care

  • Less likely to experience medical interventions

  • You can definitely have access to a birthing pool if you hire one

  • You can use gas & air

  • No restrictions on birthing partners

  • Able to recover after birth in the comfort of your own home

  • People report more satisfying birth experiences

 

Cons of homebirth


  • No access to pharmaceutical pain relief options

  • Transfer to hospital would be via ambulance in the case of an emergency

  • The chance of poorer outcomes slightly increases - research suggests that for first time mothers in hospital the chance is between 5 and 6 babies in every 1000 have a poor outcome. For a planned homebirth, this increased slightly to between 9 and 10 in every 1000. For second or subsequent mothers there was no difference in these risks due to place of birth.

  • First time mothers have a slightly increased chance of needing to transfer into hospital. The chance is 45 in every 100 first time mothers will need to transfer into hospital during labour

  • 12 in every 100 women will need to transfer in if this is not their first baby


Pain relief options for homebirth

  • Gas & air

  • Hypnobirthing (check out my free Hypnobirthing class here!)

  • Relaxation techniques

  • Being active and changing positions

  • Water/Birthing pools

  • TENS machine

  • Paracetamol

  • Aromatherapy (always consult a professional before use)

Newcastle Birthing Centre


birthing centre RVI

The Newcastle Birthing Centre is the largest birthing centre in the North East and is located on level 3 of the Leazes Wing at the RVI. It is directly on the left hand side as you enter the hospital through the main doors.

 

The Newcastle Birthing Centre is a co-located midwife led unit, meaning it is in the main hospital building, but separate from the consultant led delivery suite.


Please note that at the time of writing this blog post, the birthing centre at the RVI is not always open due to staff shortages. 


Due to significant staff shortages at the trust, the birthing centre often has to close at short notice and the duration of the closures can vary. This means that the birthing centre could be closed for hours, days or weeks at a time.


It is not currently possible to know if the birthing centre at the RVI will be open when you give birth as no announcements are being made from the trust. The current advice from the trust is to ring the labour line when you are in labour and ask if the birthing centre is open.


For the most up to date information on this situation, please contact your midwife, ring the RVI directly or head over to the Connie emidwife Facebook page.


Facilities

At the RVI, the Birthing Centre is one floor away from the delivery suite and has the following facilities:


  • 12 birthing rooms, 5 of which are pool rooms

  • Hot meals provided at any time of day or night

  • An en-suite bathroom in each birthing room (some have baths with showers overhead, others have showers only)

  • Free TV with Freeview in each birthing room

  • Birthing balls, floor mats, birthing couches and birthing stools

  • Dimmer switches and air conditioning in each birthing room

  • A pull out double sofa bed for postnatal stays


Criteria for using the birthing centre

The RVI currently advise that they have the following criteria for using the birthing centre:


  • Being pregnant with 1 baby

  • Baby in the head down position at the start of labour

  • You are having a ‘low risk’ pregnancy or there is a documented plan in your notes that says you can give birth at the Newcastle Birthing Centre

  • Be ‘term’ at the start of your labour – between 37+0 and 42+0 weeks

  • If it is your first baby, to have a BMI below 35 at 28 weeks of pregnancy

  • If it is your second baby or more, to have a BMI below 40 at 28 weeks of pregnancy

 

If you fall outside of the above criteria, please do speak to your midwife. It’s important to know that these criteria are not set in law. For more information on your birth rights and choosing to use a birthing centre, please read this article from Birth Rights.


woman holds her pregnant bump

Pros of using the birthing centre at the RVI


  • Midwifery led care 

  • Homely environment which is less clinical than the delivery suite

  • 5 birthing pool rooms

  • No birthing partner restrictions. Your birthing partner can stay with you throughout your labour and after you’ve given birth

  • All rooms have ensuite bathrooms

  • Gas and air is available for pain relief

  • You only need to transfer one floor up if you need stronger forms of pain relief or if you need to see a consultant

Cons of using the birthing centre at the RVI


  • No access to strong forms of pain relief such as an epidural

  • Currently, it isn’t always open and there’s no way of knowing if it will be open in advance of you giving birth

  • You cannot use the birthing centre if your labour is induced

  • The Birthplace study suggests that the possibility of transfer from the birthing centre to the obstetric led delivery ward for first time mothers is 30 in every 100 women.

 

Pain relief options for the birthing centre



Delivery suite/labour ward


delivery suite at the RVI

The Delivery suite or labour ward at the RVI is the largest in the North East. It provides primarily consultant led care and is located on level 4 of the Leazes Wing, one floor above the Birthing Centre.


Anyone can choose to give birth on the labour ward and there are no restrictions or set criteria.


Facilities

The delivery suite has:


  • 12 birthing rooms, 1 of which is a pool room

  • 7 rooms are en-suite and 5 have shared bathroom facilities

  • 6 induction beds, arranged as one 2-bedded bay and one 4-bedded bay

  • A 5-bedded Recovery area

  • A 4-bedded Enhanced Recovery area

  • 2 maternity theatres on the Delivery Suite

  • Free TV with Freeview in each birthing room except the pool room

  • Birthing balls, floor mats and birthing stools available on request

 

Pros of using the delivery suite


  • Access to stronger forms of pain relief such as an epidural a

  • If you or your baby needs to see a doctor, your midwife will call a doctor who is available on the suite to come to your room to see you. You will not have to transfer anywhere

Cons of using the delivery suite


  • Tends to be a more clinical experience

  • Higher risk of experiencing medical interventions, even if you’re low risk

  • There is only 1 pool

  • You may have to share a bathroom with another family whilst in labour

  • There are birthing partner restrictions. After you’ve given birth, your birthing partner will only be able to stay with you during set visiting hours between 8am - 9pm. This means they could be asked to leave after your baby is born

  • Recovery usually takes place on a shared postnatal ward

Pain relief options for delivery suite/labour ward

  • Gas & air

  • Hypnobirthing (watch my free Hypnobirthing class here!)

  • Relaxation techniques

  • Being active and changing positions

  • Water/Birthing pools

  • TENS machine (you would need to bring your own)

  • Pethidine

  • Epidural


a woman hold a newborn baby in hospital in newcastle

Hopefully this blog post has given you a really clear understanding and insight into exactly what to expect when you give birth at the RVI in Newcastle and what all of your options are for your birth.


As well considering the facilities which are available, it’s also really important to take into account your own personal circumstances, health and also what you value as important for your birth.


Did you find this blog post helpful? Is there anything else you would like to know?


Let me know in the comments!


Love Emma

Hypnobirthing and antenatal specialist

xxx



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Who am I?

antenatal teacher newcastle holds pevlvis

Hey, I'm Emma!


Tea lover, self confessed birth nerd, mama of two and the founder of Blooming Births Hypnobirthing.


I pride myself on offering honest, bespoke and evidence based antenatal courses which put YOU at the very heart.


After giving birth to my own two babies, I continue to work closely with the Newcastle Maternity units and stay up to date with current working practices so that you are well informed about what to expect from your local trust.

 I'm also an affiliate member of The Royal College of Midwives and a breastfeeding peer support volunteer. I'm here to support you to start feeling informed, confident and totally ready for your birth!




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