SPECIAL DELIVERY: Midwives Bobbie Cullimore, Cathy Molloy and Ann Jasper in the new birthing pool room.
THIS is the first look behind the scenes of a £29 million women's centre about to open its doors in Gloucester.
Yesterday we were given exclusive access to the building at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, which welcomes its first mums-to-be in January.
The delivery suite at the site will be the centralised maternity service for women in the county who may need medical or anaesthetic help during labour. It also includes a separate midwifery-led birth unit.
Jenny Hill, programme manager at the county's hospitals trust, said: "This has been in the planning for nearly five years. It's exciting and rewarding for all the staff who have been involved in the detailed planning discussions to see it become a reality.
"We are very fortunate to have a new facility, particularly in the current financial climate."
The three-floor building, which is connected to the hospital, brings in lots of natural light and has been designed specifically to cater for women and their babies.
Just under 6,000 mums are expected to give birth in the building every year.
A midwife-led birth unit, with seven rooms and two birthing pools, is also available for those with low risk births on the second floor.
Senior midwifery manager Cathy Molloy said the new centre had been welcomed by midwives.
She said it gives more choice to women, with Gloucestershire now offering the options of being in a midwife led unit, a delivery suite or home births. "The fact we have got neonatal and specialists all in one unit on one site will undoubtedly prove beneficial to the care women receive. Midwives are pleased. To have a brand new unit is absolutely fantastic."
The centre will open in stages to different patients between January 10 and 15. On December 3 an open day will be held for expectant mums, neighbours of the site, foundation trust members and certain charities, as well as members of Gloucestershire's maternity user group – who have been consulted about the design of the building.
Pregnant mums will soon be able to have a virtual tour of the centre on the trust's website www.gloshospitals.org.uk.