Giving birth

We believe that it's important for you to make informed choices about the sort of care you would like and where you would like to give birth. These choices can be discussed with your midwife beforehand and will be incorporated into your birth plan.

We can offer expert advice tailored to your individual circumstances and needs at every stage of your pregnancy. 

Our midwife-led birth centres are dedicated to providing safe, individualised care from a core team of experienced midwives in a friendly home-from-home environment for women without complications.

Women whose pregnancies need more specialised obstetric care or closer monitoring in labour will be advised to labour on the labour ward with the extra reassurance this provides. All women will receive 1:1 midwifery care in established labour, with input from the obstetric and anaesthetic team as required.

The 'home from home' environment of the birth centres at both hospitals provides birthing rooms equipped with birthing pools, mood lighting and specially designed couches. These give mothers to be the opportunity to give birth naturally in a relaxing environment.

Take a look around

Watch our virtual tours below for an inside look at our units.

Who can use our birth centres?

We welcome all women who would like to give birth in a natural, relaxing environment, although there are certain criteria you need to meet:

  • Full-term pregnancy between 37- 42 weeks
  • Healthy woman with no known medical conditions
  • Singleton pregnancy (only one baby)
  • Uncomplicated current pregnancy
  • No previous pregnancy or birth complications
  • Baby in head down position
  • Spontaneous onset of labour

What pain relief is available?

  • Massage
  • Breathing / relaxation techniques
  • Water (hydrotherapy)
  • Mobilisation
  • Hypnotherapy will be supported
  • Entonox (gas and air)
  • Pethidine injection

If an epidural is requested, a transfer will be necessary to one of our labour ward rooms. However, it is known that the need for epidural anaesthesia is significantly reduced when one-to-one care is provided by a midwife.

For more information about our birthing centres, read Birth Centres At Epsom And St Helier - 2017 [pdf] 816KB.

Supporting maternal choice in caesarean section

If you would like to discuss birth by planned caesarean section, please speak to your team midwife who will refer you to a Birth Choices clinic, where one of our Consultant Midwives will support you in making an informed decision regarding delivery.

You may find the following information helpful:  RCOG Guidance for Maternal Choice Caesarian Section (1).pdf [pdf] 205KB


Frequently asked questions

Can I use a birthing pool?

Every effort is made to accommodate the wishes of an expectant mother. The majority of women requesting to use a birthing pool, either for relaxation or to give birth will be able to do so. Please discuss this with the midwife on admission.

When can I go home?

If mother and baby are well after the birth, you can request to go home within a few hours once the necessary paperwork has been completed. Your newborn will need a comprehensive check within 72 hours of birth, which will either be completed before you leave the hospital, or at home by one of our community midwives.

What happens if my baby is not well?

We offer 24-hour paediatric and neonatal cover, which means that there are specialist doctors and nurses on hand whenever you and your baby might need them.

Will there be students looking after me?

Both Epsom and St Helier are training hospitals, so student doctors, nurses and midwives may be involved in your care, working alongside our experienced professionals. While we welcome and value the opportunity to develop others, please do let us know if you would prefer to not have a student present.

Home births

Homebirth service has been reinstated, read more.


Giving birth at home, with the support of enthusiastic and experienced midwives, is as safe as having a baby in hospital when you are fit and healthy and experiencing a normal pregnancy.

  • Home is a relaxing, stress-free environment for your labour and delivery
  • You may require less pain relief
  • Family and friends can be close by
  • Childcare arrangements may be easier.

We know that women who choose to give birth at home enjoy being in the comfort of their own homes where they are free to eat and drink, mobilise in their own space, listen to music, watch TV or whatever helps them to relax in familiar surroundings.

This helps to facilitate normal birth, which is why women who choose home birth are less likely to request epidurals, have caesarean sections, assisted deliveries or report unsatisfactory experiences.

Cord blood stem cell collection

Cells4Life logo

We are working in partnership with Cells4Life to provide cord blood stem cell collection services from our maternity units at Epsom and St Helier hospitals.

Over the last two decades, stem cell banking has become routine practice for many families throughout the world for treatment of a variety of diseases, or for future therapeutic uses which are currently in their research phase, including type 1 diabetes, Parkinson disease and Cerebral Palsy. Until recently, bone marrow was the primary source of stem cells but the use of cord blood stem cells has become routine for transplantations, and has now evolved as the primary source.

Your baby’s umbilical cord blood is one of the richest and most powerful sources of stem cells available. In all births, some cord blood is left behind in the umbilical cord and placenta after the baby is delivered and the umbilical cord is cut. Collecting it is quick, simple, safe and non-invasive.

In the UK, we throw away 60,000 litres per year of what is potentially a life-changing and even life-saving resource. We want to change this.

Cord blood stem cell collection at Epsom and St Helier

Our Maternity units at both Epsom and St Helier hospitals are working alongside Cells4Life, the UK’s largest cord blood bank, to offer public and private cord blood storage programs. This gives you the option to donate your baby’s cord blood for the public good, or retain it for the exclusive use of your child and your family.

Your antenatal midwife will consent you for donation - if you do not wish to donate your cord blood, you can of course opt out. 

Further information is avaiulable at (opens in a new window) or on discussion with the antenatal midwives.

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Healthy Workplace Achievement Award 2016 NHS Choices