Published on: 12 May 2020

When Kayleigh Docherty’s plan for a home birth had to be changed because of the coronavirus pandemic she was, understandably, upset and anxious.

Thankfully, South Tyneside District Hospital’s Midwifery-Led Birthing Centre was able to provide her with the joyous, relaxed birth she longed for.

Kayleigh Docherty and family.jpeg

Daughter, Jessica, came in to the world on April 22nd weighing 7lb 8oz and is, in the words of her doting mum, ‘fab’. She is the second child for Kayleigh, 33, and her accountant husband, Tim, 34, and sister to Jensen, aged three.

With her daughter now thriving back at home in Washington, Kayleigh has paid tribute to everyone at the Midwifery-Led Birthing Centre.

She said: “I would absolutely recommend it to other mums. I actually enjoyed the experience and when I look back on it, it is with only happy feelings.”

With her planned home birth unable to be supported due to COVID-19, Kayleigh was upset as it meant she had to change her birth plan.

She said: “My community midwife knew how much I wanted to give birth in a non-hospital setting and she recommended the birthing centre. I was able to go there and have a look and I absolutely loved it. Straightaway, I felt a sense of calm and relaxation and felt at home.

“It’s only a little thing but, given coronavirus, it was also reassuring that you don’t have to go through the hospital to get to the centre, just through one set of double doors.”      

When she went into labour a few weeks later, husband Tim stayed at home with Jensen and Kayleigh’s mother, Michelle Watson, went with her as her birth partner to the birthing centre, where she planned a water birth.

“I was examined as soon as I arrived and then they took me to a lovely, large room where I could keep mobile and progress my labour,” said Kayleigh. “There was a comfy sofa for Mum to sit on while I was on the birthing ball or leaning on the bed and I was able to have my own music playing. It was so peaceful, I was falling asleep between contractions. When I was transferred to the birthing pool room it was just as nice.”

Kayleigh added: “The midwives were amazing throughout. They were in PPE but I wasn’t worried as I knew that meant they had taken care of all the necessary precautions.”  

Kayleigh wanted her birthing experience to be as natural as possible and part of that was to be left, with her mum, to ‘get on with it’. She said the midwives understood, staying in the background - always there but not obtrusive.

“They let my body do what it wanted to do which made it so relaxing and is why, I think, Jessica came so quickly in the end.”

The Midwifery-Led Birthing Centre at South Tyneside District Hospital opened in August last year to offer more birth choice to women and has welcomed almost 180 babies into the world. Feedback from parents who have used the new facility has been overwhelmingly positive.

Sheila Ford, Head of Midwifery at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, said: “During the COVID-19 pandemic, our maternity staff in South Tyneside and Sunderland are continuing to do a fantastic job, despite the extremely challenging circumstances. It is a real boost to hear from mums, like Kayleigh, and their families, who really appreciate the outstanding care they provide.”