Midwifery units offer maternity care to healthy women with straightforward pregnancies. They provide a social model of care, in which women and families are cared for and supported to experience birth as a normal physiological, psychological and social process. The birthing environment is calm, welcoming, comfortable and relaxing.
In Midwifery Units, midwives take primary professional responsibility and carry out most of the care, alongside maternity support workers, whom they manage. Interdisciplinary working with medical colleagues, ambulance service, community colleagues and service users is based on mutual respect to provide high quality, evidence-based care and smooth transfer to obstetric units, as required.
Alongside midwifery units (AMUs) are within a hospital that provides obstetric care, close to the delivery (birthing) suite, or labour ward, or may be on the same site in a different building. AMUs are close to medical facilities and personnel should the woman need them. This may include access to interventions that can be carried out by midwives, for example electronic fetal heart monitoring. To access such services, women will need to transfer to the obstetric unit, which will normally be by walking, trolley, bed or wheelchair.
Freestanding midwifery units (FMUs) are on a separate site from obstetric services; in an independent building or on the site of a community hospital. If a woman transfers to the obstetric unit during labour she will usually travel by car or ambulance.
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