MORE women should give birth with only midwives present, including at home, according to government health advisers.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has urged midwives to advise mothers-to-be who have already given birth to one child that if their pregnancy appears to be straightforward, they should decide to have their baby at home, or in a midwifery-led unit, such as the centres in Blackburn and Rossendale.

The news, which could lead to a huge shift in patterns of childbirth, has been welcomed by East Lancashire Hospital Trust which has, in some respects, been ahead of the curve in this issue after staffing pioneering birthing units in Blackburn and Burnley.

So far, more than 3,000 women have chosen to give birth at the midwife-led unit in Park Lee Road, Blackburn, which opened in November 2010.

It is thought to offer a more ‘personal’ alternative to a traditional maternity ward, boasting birthing pools, gardens, birth preparation classes, hypnotherapy advice and even baby yoga classes.

Vanessa Hollings, divisional general manager of family care at the trust, said: “We are pleased that the national news today is providing people with further reassurance and evidence that a birth centre is a safe place to deliver their baby and also the best place for women with a normal healthy pregnancy.

“We are extremely proud of the choice of maternity settings that we are able to provide for women in East Lancashire.”

Nicola Bellusci used one of the birthing pools to bear her third child Lewis at the Centre recently – having given birth to her first two babies in the trust’s consultant-led birth suite at Burnley General Hospital.

Nicola said: “It’s such a nice, calming atmosphere here.

“You can walk about outside and have your midwife with you.”

Nicola went on to say that she was so calm while giving birth that she was even singing along to songs on the radio.