Having your baby in Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust provides maternity services to women in the county. We are extremely proud of our maternity services which offer you a full range of choices for your care and where to have your baby. This page will help to guide you through these choices, services and available support. When you first discover you are pregnant, it is important to make contact with a health care professional as soon as possible. This is to make sure that you receive maternity care and advice that takes account of your health needs and preferences.
You can book your first midwife appointment by visiting the link below:
Community midwifery services
At your first contact with the midwifery services, you will be introduced to your named midwife. Community midwives are linked to GP surgeries, in some larger surgeries there may be more than one midwife. The midwife will arrange to meet with you for your first appointment. This may be at your home, your GP’s surgery, hospital drop-in clinic or in a local children’s centre.
At your first appointment (known as the ‘booking appointment’), you will receive information to help us plan your care during your pregnancy, birth and the early days with your new baby.
Your midwife will ask you lots of questions about your health and the health of your family.
Taking into account your preferences, the midwife will be able to plan your care to best suit the needs of you, your baby and your wider family.
In most cases your community midwife will be the lead professional caring for you; this is called Midwife Led Care. If you have any significant medical problems or pregnancy risk factors such as diabetes, high blood pressure or a multiple pregnancy your midwife can refer you to an obstetrician (a doctor who specialises in pregnancy and birth). The obstetrician will care for you alongside your midwife throughout your pregnancy.
If you work, your employer needs to make sure you can attend the clinic for your care. Some midwifery antenatal care may be offered at midwife clinics in children’s centre or at your local hospital or birth unit, some appointments may be at your home. Your midwife will have details of what is available to you locally.
Your maternity records
Your maternity care will be documented digitally via BadgerNotes. Your midwife will give you instructions for this app at your first appointment.
You will be able to view your maternity notes via the app and access information leaflets.
Your midwife or doctor will update your notes every time you have an appointment.
Contacting your midwife
Your community midwife will make sure that you have all the contact telephone numbers you may need during your pregnancy.
If you have any concerns before 16 weeks of pregnancy, you should contact your GP’s surgery or if out of normal working hours NHS 111 for advice.
For concerns after 16 weeks of pregnancy, please contact the Triage department at the Women’s Unit in Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.
If you live in the Stroud or Cheltenham areas you may be seen, with some conditions, at your local unit - you will be given the telephone numbers to use to phone for advice.
The ultrasound department
During your pregnancy you will be offered several routine ultrasound scans. The first of these scans is a dating scan, normally performed around your 12th week of pregnancy.
The second scan is an anomaly scan, performed around your 20th week of pregnancy.
Other scans may also be arranged during your pregnancy if we feel these are required.
All scans will be performed at either your local or regional hospital by a sonographer, midwife or doctor. You should receive an appointment letter through the post with any additional information that you need to know before attending for the scan. This will include information such as, how much fluid to drink so that your bladder is full for the scan and how to purchase photographs from your scan.
If you need more information about the scans, please speak to your midwife.
When attending for your scan, only 1 adult will be allowed to accompany you, this can be your partner, a relative, friend or carer. Unfortunately, no children will be allowed in the scan room. Photographs of your scan may not always be available, as they are very much dependent on the position of your baby.
Early Pregnancy Assessment (EPA) Clinic
Women who are in the early stages of pregnancy and are experiencing problems such as pain and bleeding from 7 weeks of pregnancy and up to 15 weeks and
6 days, can be referred to our EPA clinic by either their GP or midwife after 8 weeks.
These clinics are held in the Women’s Unit at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.
Your GP or midwife will ring the EPA team who will then contact you within 24 hours of the referral being received with an appointment. The appointment may not always be within 48 hours. Some women in very early pregnancy will only need telephone advice.
Clinic investigations that are performed at the clinic may include ultrasound scans, urine and blood tests. Although appointment times are given, due to the nature of the clinic waits of up to 2 hours may be unavoidable.
You are welcome to bring along your partner or a friend to the EPA clinic.
The Antenatal Clinic
We provide consultant antenatal clinics in Gloucester, Cheltenham, Stroud, Cirencester and the Dilke hospitals. The team running these clinics includes obstetricians, midwives, maternity health care assistants and support staff such as receptionists.
You will be seen in one of our clinics after your dating scan for routine blood tests. Generally, appointments are sent to you in the post following referral from your community midwife.
If you are unable to attend your appointment, please telephone us to arrange another appointment.
You will need to bring a urine sample to your appointment, your midwife or your GP’s surgery can provide you with a bottle.
The doctors and midwives involved in your care may arrange for you to see other professionals during your pregnancy, such as anaesthetists, paediatricians, dieticians or teams that specialise in certain conditions or health needs.
The antenatal clinics in Cheltenham General and Gloucestershire Royal Hospitals also have Maternity Assessment Units (MACs).
You will be asked to attend the MACs if you require a higher level of care during pregnancy, such as the electronic monitoring of your baby’s heartbeat, blood pressure assessments and glucose tolerance tests. These are more detailed assessments and can take a couple of hours. Appointments are arranged by your obstetrician or midwife either as part of the plan for your pregnancy care or, if concerns about you or your baby arise during pregnancy.
The triage department
The triage area is next to the Delivery Suite at the Women’s Unit. You can contact this department for advice 24 hours a day once you are 16 weeks pregnant, to discuss any urgent concerns about your pregnancy or your baby.
You may also be referred to triage by your midwife or doctor if they feel that you or your baby requires an assessment. For urgent advice before 16 weeks, you should contact your GP.
For non-urgent enquires or advice not related to your pregnancy, you should contact your GP or community midwife.
If you live in the Stroud or Cheltenham areas you may be seen with some conditions at your local unit - you will be given the telephone numbers to telephone for advice.
Women attending triage are seen according to the urgency of their condition, rather than by arrival times.
If you feel that your symptoms, such as pain, are becoming worse while you are waiting to be seen, please let us know.
Within the triage area you will be seen by a midwife and if necessary, a doctor.
The BadgerNotes app gives you information and advice about symptoms or concerns that you may have, and when you should seek advice.
The physiotherapy department
We are able to offer a physiotherapy service especially for pregnant women or for women who have just had a baby. If you are experiencing problems such as backache, pelvic pain or sciatica during your pregnancy, or in the post-natal period, you can refer yourself to the physiotherapy department by visiting the website below: https://www.gloshospitals.nhs.uk/our-services/services-we-offer/physiotherapy/
You may be seen in a ‘small group’ advice clinic and then, if necessary, at a one-to-one appointment. This is not an emergency service, so if your symptoms are sudden or very severe, please seek advice.
A physiotherapist will often see new mums on the maternity ward to discuss pelvic floor and post-natal exercises. All mums will be able to access leaflets on the maternity website, giving general advice and explaining different exercises that they should do during pregnancy and after the birth.
Where shall I have my baby?
It is important to think carefully about what sort of care you would like during your birth and where you would like to give birth.
You do not have to decide where to have your baby until later in pregnancy but it is a good idea to start to think about your options early on.
Information can be found at the following websites:
Your community midwife will have additional information, particularly about local facilities and parent education classes that may help you to make choices and prepare for your baby’s birth.
All parents-to-be are offered antenatal education classes. These classes give you the opportunity to:
- meet other parents-to-be.
- find out more about giving birth to your baby.
- find out more about feeding your baby.
- find out what to expect during the early days.
Some sessions may be offered at a local birth unit and others are in your local community, in venues such as children’s centres.
We also offer reduced cost NHS Midwife Led Hypnobirthing classes; your midwife will be able to give you more details about these classes. There is also information on our maternity website.
Our website, www.gloshospitals.nhs.uk/our-services/services-we-offer/maternity/our-maternity-services/having-your-baby-in-gloucestershire/ offers you the opportunity of a virtual tour of the maternity unit.
If later in your pregnancy you would like to visit the place in which you are planning to have your baby, we may be able to offer you a tour of the area. Please discuss this with your community midwife as she can advise you further and explain how to book.
In Gloucestershire, we offer a choice of places to have your baby; this may be in one of our 3 birth units across the county, the Delivery Suite at the Women’s Unit or your own home. Your midwife will also be able to advise you on the safest place to give birth based on research evidence and you and your baby’s health.
Together with your community midwife you will make a final plan for your birth towards the end of your pregnancy, usually at 36 weeks.
The community midwife will be able to help you choose where you plan to give birth. This will be based on your individual circumstances, where you think you would feel more comfortable and relaxed and taking into account what sort of plans you may have for your birth and any health needs you or your baby may have.
If you do not have any health issues and have had a straight forward healthy pregnancy, you will be offered midwifery led care in one of our birth units or a homebirth.
Midwifery Led Services
The results of a large Birth Place Study (2011) found that for healthy women with a straight forward pregnancy, planned births in Midwifery Led Units have the same outcomes for babies, compared to obstetric units with fewer interventions such as instrumental delivery, forceps and ventouse and a reduced chance of a caesarean section.
Midwives are experienced in recognising problems during labour. If there are any signs of complications you will be transferred to the consultant unit located in the Women’s Unit at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.
Giving birth in a relaxed and calm environment such as your home or one of our birth units may help you to feel calmer and more relaxed, which in turn will help you feel more in control of your birth. If you plan to deliver at home or in one of our birth units, your midwife will give you further information.
Should you need to be transferred into the consultant unit while in labour, either from home or from the birth units at Cheltenham or Stroud, this would be by ambulance. The transfer times would not only depend on traffic but also the time it takes for the ambulance to respond to an emergency call. In times of high activity, there may be a delay. If you wish to discuss emergency transfers, please contact your midwife.
Giving birth at home
Many women may choose to give birth at home because they wish to be relaxed and at ease in familiar surroundings.
This helps the natural process of labour and birth, and women often find that they need less pain relief. For women who are fit and healthy, particularly if you have had a baby before, research shows that a home birth is just as safe as a hospital birth. However, if it is your first baby, studies suggest that there is a slight increase in problems if a baby is born at home rather than an obstetric unit.
First time mothers are also more likely to need to be transferred to hospital than second time mothers. For more information to help you make the right choice for you and your baby ask your midwife or go to:
Some women hire a birthing pool for use at home and a TENS machine (Trans Electrical Nerve Stimulation). A TENS machine is a small, battery-operated device that has leads connected to sticky pads called electrodes. The sticky pads and leads are attached to your back. Electrical impulses are released through these pads and can reduce pain signals going to the spinal cord and brain. TENS machines are also thought to stimulate the production of endorphins, which are the body’s natural pain relief and help with the discomfort of labour. Your midwife will have gas and air (entonox) for you to use and will also provide all of the equipment necessary for your birth.
Community midwives are experienced in supporting women to give birth at home and are trained to deal with any possible emergencies. If any problems arise during the birth, she will discuss these with you and arrange transfer for you by ambulance to the consultant unit – the midwife will stay with you at all times.
Your community midwife will be able to discuss transfer times to hospital for you and your baby in an emergency; she will also be able to answer any other questions you may have about the home birth service that is offered throughout Gloucestershire.
Midwife Led Birth Units
All of the birthing rooms are furnished in a homely way to create a relaxing and comfortable environment in which to have your baby. Many have en-suite facilities and are well equipped to make sure you are comfortable and relaxed during labour. We offer birthing balls, mattresses and cushions, lighting can be dimmed and you can play your own choice of music. All of our birthing units have birthing pools for you to use.
Midwives at the birth units are trained in aromatherapy and massage and are able to offer a range of aromatherapy oils for you to use.
Entonox (gas and air) and opioid injections (pethidine and diamorphine) are available in all the units to provide pain relief.
Once you have had your baby, all of the units offer you the opportunity of early discharge home. This is usually within 6 to 12 hours, if there are no concerns with you or your baby. If you need to stay in hospital, you will be transferred to the maternity ward.
Gloucester Birth Unit
The Gloucester Birth Unit is an ‘alongside birth unit’ which means it is close to the main obstetric unit.
You will find the Gloucester Birth Unit on the 2nd floor of the Women’s Unit (the floor above the delivery suite). The unit is run by experienced midwives.
Should you require the care of a doctor, you will be transferred, usually by wheelchair, one floor down to the delivery suite; this usually takes a matter of a few minutes.
You can take a look around the Gloucester Birth Unit with a virtual tour by logging onto our maternity website at:
Cheltenham Birth Unit
This is a ‘freestanding birth unit’ which means it is within your local community and is run by experienced midwives, including community midwives from the Cheltenham and North Cotswold areas who you may have met during your pregnancy.
Should you need to see a doctor, or if your baby requires specialist treatment, you will be transferred by ambulance to the Women’s Unit at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. Transfer times not only depend on traffic but also the time it takes for the ambulance to respond to the call.
All emergency calls from the Cheltenham Birth Unit for an ambulance are categorised as high priority, however, in times of high activity, occasionally there may be a delay in the ambulance arriving at the birth unit. Once the ambulance has arrived, a midwife will accompany you or your baby in the ambulance for the transfer.
Your community midwife will be able to answer any questions you may have about the service provided by our midwifery-led birth units in Gloucestershire.
You can take a look around the Aveta Birth Unit with a virtual tour by logging onto our maternity website at:
Stroud Birth Unit
This is a free standing birth unit which means it is within your local community and is run by experienced midwives, including community midwives from the Stroud and Cirencester areas who you may have met during your pregnancy.
Should you need to see a doctor or if your baby requires specialist treatment you will be transferred to the Women’s Unit at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. Transfer times not only depend on traffic but also the time it takes for the ambulance to respond to the call. All emergency calls from the Stroud Birth Unit for an ambulance are categorised as high priority, however, in times of high activity occasionally there may be a delay in the ambulance arriving at the birth unit. Once the ambulance has arrived, a midwife will accompany you or your baby for the transfer.
Your community midwife will be able to answer any questions you may have about our midwifery-led birth units in Gloucestershire.
You can take a look around the Stroud Birth Unit with a virtual tour by logging onto our maternity website at:
The Delivery Suite
Central Delivery Suite at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital is a friendly, multi-professional environment with 24/7 cover from an anaesthetist and consultant obstetrician.
Care in labour and birth is provided by a team of doctors, midwives and support workers. We work in partnership with you to provide individualised plans of care. It is suited to women with complex pregnancies, under consultant led care or those who wish to have an epidural in labour.
The Central Delivery Suite has 11 birthing rooms all of which have en-suite bathrooms. We have multi positional birthing beds and equipment such as birthing balls for you to use during your labour and the birth of your baby.
We also have aromatherapy available to mothers giving birth on the delivery suite. Please speak to your midwife if this is something you would like.
Although the rooms are designed for women with more complex needs, it is also possible for them to be adapted to reflect a home from home setting to make you feel more at ease.
We have a birthing pool room for those who wish to experience a water birth or use water as a means of pain relief. For higher risk mothers using the pool, we can offer continuous fetal monitoring via telemetry if required.
All rooms are furnished with machines to monitor your baby’s heart rate via telemetry. This allows all mothers being monitored to move around while in labour without being limited by wires or leads.
We have 2 obstetric theatres and 2 high dependency rooms for women who require additional care. We are located next to the Neonatal Unit, should your baby require extra support following birth.
You are welcome to have a maximum of 2 birthing partners to support you during your labour and birth.
There is no visiting on the Labour Ward but you are welcome to have visitors on the postnatal ward.
You can take a virtual tour around the Delivery Suite at the Women’s Unit by logging onto our maternity website at:
What happens after I’ve had my baby?
If you give birth in one of our birth units across the county, you will be able to return home as soon as you wish, providing that you are both well. Your partner will be able to stay with you and you can all return home together.
If you give birth on the delivery suite, most mums and babies are transferred to the maternity ward for a while before discharge home. When you are discharged will depend on your individual needs and wishes.
The Maternity Ward
This ward is designed to provide care for women who need to stay in hospital either before they have had their baby, or to rest and recover afterwards. The ward has several small bays with en-suite facilities. There are single rooms available to women who, due to a medical condition, may require them.
You may wish to book a single room during your stay by choosing to pay for an amenity room with en-suite facilities. Unfortunately, the availability of an amenity room is not guaranteed but please ask the midwife caring for you when you have had your baby.
The team on the maternity ward include midwives, nursery nurses, maternity care assistants and support staff such as receptionists and domestic staff. Doctors and other staff groups such as physiotherapists involved in your care regularly visit the ward, as do paediatricians who may be involved in the care of your baby.
Neonatal Unit (NNU)
Some babies require admission to the Neonatal Unit (NNU). These babies may be pre-term (below 37 weeks gestation), small or require special observation and treatment. Some babies need to stay in the NNU for just a few hours; others may need to stay longer. You may visit the NNU during your pregnancy if it appears that your baby may require admission to the unit.
Transitional Care Unit
This is a 4 bedded area within the maternity ward if joint care from the midwives and the neonatal team is required for you and your baby.
On the maternity ward are 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. All visitors will need to report to reception, and the number of visitors in addition to your partner is limited to 2 per mum and baby. During labour and birth there are no visiting restrictions, but we ask you to keep the number of birth supporters you have to a maximum of 2 people.
If you have a baby on the Neonatal Unit, you can visit any time of day or night. This applies to baby’s parents and siblings. For other family and friends, the visiting times are 11:00 am to
8:00 pm with a maximum of 4 people at any time per cot.
These times are at the discretion of the Nurse in Charge, therefore please be understanding of families who may be having a difficult time and respect all staff and families if you are asked to leave.
You should also be aware that all babies are vulnerable to infections, so if anyone is unwell must not visit. These include visitors who have coughs or colds and anyone who has recently had diarrhoea or vomiting who must stay away from hospital until they are 48 hours clear of symptoms.
Visitors are asked to keep noise levels to a minimum, like being in a library.
Are provided for you during your stay; a choice is available. If you have any food preferences for dietary or religious reasons that are not on the menu, please ask a member of staff.
Food and refreshments are available for your partner and visitors to purchase in Fosters Restaurant (9:00 am to 7:00 pm) and in the coffee shop outlets within the main hospital. There are also vending machines, with hot and cold snacks available in the main corridor outside of the Women’s Unit.
Feeding your baby
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is a ‘Baby Friendly’ hospital and has maintained full UNICEF Baby Friendly Initiative accreditation status for supporting women to breast feed successfully.
Midwives, maternity support workers and maternity care assistants will support you to feed your baby in the way in which you have chosen. If you choose to breast feed your baby, you will be given support to make sure you are confident in latching your baby to the breast, together with advice for dealing with common problems.
If you choose to formula feed your baby, staff can show you how to make up feeds before going home. You will need to bring in some formula milk to use during your stay. It may be easier for you to bring in ‘ready to feed’ cartons. We are able to supply you with formula for your baby’s first feed, or if there is a medical need.
During your stay, you can get additional support from voluntary breast-feeding support workers or an infant feeding specialist midwife. You will also receive leaflets giving further information which will explain where to obtain support and advice.
All staff wear identity badges and should always introduce themselves to you. Do not be afraid to challenge anyone if you are not sure. If anything, or anyone gives you cause for concern, please let a member of staff know immediately.
Within the Women’s Unit a small tag is secured using a baby identity label on your baby’s foot. Taking a baby near to one of the ward exits will cause an alarm to sound. This tag will be checked and removed by a member of staff just before your discharge.
Parking at Gloucestershire Royal and Cheltenham General Hospitals is controlled and monitored through a private company, SABA. Please visit the following link for more information about travel and parking at our hospitals:
You will need to pay for parking either by purchasing a ticket from one of the pay and display machines in the visitor’s parking area, or when leaving if you are parked in the multi-story car park at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital. There are short stay drop off points near the entrance for your convenience.
If you are coming to the Women’s Unit in labour, for your safety and convenience please use the emergency entrance (glass doors). Use the call bell, situated to the left of the doors, for the department you require. Staff will release the door.
On entering the Women’s Units, the lifts are on your left hand side. At all other times, use the main hospital entrance.
Please note the parking restrictions. We are unable to enter into parking disputes between you and SABA.
Parking is free at Stroud Maternity Unit.
The hospital bus service
Pullmans run a number 99 bus service between Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and Cheltenham General Hospital sites. For more information, and the bus timetable visit:
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is a smoke free zone. Smoking is not permitted by patients or staff within the Trust buildings or hospital grounds.
Maternity services are committed to supporting pregnant women and their families to quit smoking to protect their health and that of their baby, and offer nicotine replacement therapy during their hospital stay.
You can access support with stopping smoking by visiting:
The chaplains and other members of the spiritual care team visit the wards regularly but can be contacted at any time during your stay if you would like their support. Ask a member of staff if you wish to request a visit from a chaplain or a representative of any other religion. Rooms for prayer are available within the hospital.
Translation, interpretation services and signing
If you need help with communication during your stay in hospital, please let us know as soon as possible so that arrangements can be made.
Going home with your baby
The length of time you stay in hospital will depend on the type of birth you have and on you and your baby’s individual needs. Your discharge from hospital will be planned in conjunction with you.
Please check that we have your correct address and telephone number(s). If you are not returning to your usual address when you are discharged, please let the midwives know so that we can arrange for a community midwife to visit wherever you are.
Before you go home, you will be advised to watch our postnatal film, ‘Going home with your new baby’, which can be accessed by visiting this link: www.gloshospitals.nhs.uk/postnatal-video
When you go home, you will be given your baby’s child health record (red book). This contains useful information regarding your baby’s weight, health and more. You will also be given access to postnatal leaflets via your BadgerNotes app.
During the drive home, it is a legal requirement that all babies are secured in an appropriate car seat. It is essential that you purchase the correct type of infant car seat for your vehicle and that you know how to fit the seat correctly before you leave the hospital with your baby.
Postnatal care for you and your baby
After you have returned home, postnatal care is planned in conjunction between you, your community midwife and maternity support workers (MSWs). They will either visit you at home or contact you by telephone the day after discharge from hospital.
A MSW will invite you to attend a clinic when your baby is
5 days old to perform the newborn hearing screening test and newborn blood spot test. You will receive a call a few days before to book this in.
We will make sure that you have the appropriate contact numbers should you require any support or advice between visits. We will also make sure that you have contact details for the local and national breast-feeding support groups.
You may be seen at home or in one of our clinics. These are held within the hospital or birth units at the weekend and in some children’s units during the week. These clinics enable us to be able to offer you flexibility and choice. Your community midwife will have details of these clinics and how to book an appointment for you and your baby.
Please bring your baby’s red book.
Your health visitor will make contact with you and visit you and your baby between 10 to 14 days after birth. The health visitor will take over your care after you are discharged from maternity services.
Your GP will receive information regarding your baby’s birth and will arrange to see you for a postnatal check-up between 6 and 8 weeks after your baby was born. This is often the same time for your baby’s first vaccinations.
Gloucestershire Hospitals Switchboard
Tel: 0300 422 2222
Gloucestershire Royal Hospital
Maternity Advice Line
Tel: 0300 422 5541
Tel: 0300 422 5525
Tel: 0300 422 5542
Tel: 0300 422 5520
Tel: 0300 422 5523
Tel: 0300 422 6103
Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 4:00pm
Tel: 0300 422 5099
Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 4:00pm
Tel: 0300 422 8303
Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 4:00pm
Cheltenham General Hospital
Tel: 0300 422 2324
Tel: 0300 422 2346
Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 4:00pm
Tel: 0300 422 2354
Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 4:00pm
Tel: 0300 422 2344
Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 4:00pm
Stroud Maternity Unit
Tel: 0300 421 8019
Tel: 0300 421 0825
Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 4:00pm
You can contact your named midwife or the Community Midwives office on the following numbers:
Gloucestershire Royal Hospital
Maternity Advice Line/Triage
Tel: 0300 422 5541 (24 hours)
Lydney Health Unit
Tel: 03004 218141 - select option 5
Newent Health Unit
Tel: 03004 216737
Cinderford Health Unit
Coleford Health Unit
Tel: 0300 421 8850 or 8859 (answerphone)
Cheltenham General Hospital
Tel: 0300 422 2318
Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 4:00pm
Stroud Maternity Unit
Tel: 0300 421 8018
Midwives for the above areas will be in the office between their visits. This can be anytime between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday. There is answerphone for non-urgent messages - the midwife will get back to you when they can.
For anything urgent, please call the Maternity Advice Line on 0300 422 5541 (24 hours).