Midwife-led Unit

Midwife-led Units are designed to give you a similar experience to home births. The Mid Yorkshire Trust has a designated Midwife-led Unit at Pontefract Hospital.  The unit is a special place where women have the opportunity to experience their childbirth in a calm, friendly and caring environment.  The team aims to support you so that you can have a normal, active labour and birth with the minimum of intervention.

Women who come to our Midwife-Led Unit will be offered a personal and family-centred service. There will be a strong emphasis on skilled, sensitive and respectful midwifery care.
If you are a first-time mum or have given birth before with no serious complications, and as long as you are healthy, expected to have a vaginal birth and go into labour yourself between 37 and 42 weeks, you can have your baby in the Unit.

Our aim is to provide a safe, relaxed and informal environment where women are encouraged to move through their labours at their own pace. The staff will encourage normal childbirth by recognising, respecting and safeguarding normal childbirth processes.

If a situation arises where additional help is needed you will be transferred to a Consultant-led Maternity Unit and your Midwife will go with you, providing care and support on the way. If you request an epidural, you will also be transferred to a Consultant-led Maternity Unit.

MLU has its own facebook page: Pontefract MLU 

Our Philosophy of Care

Our Midwife-led Unit seeks to provide a welcoming, supportive environment for women and their families, who would like to give birth in our ‘home from home’ setting.

We aim to empower women, to enable them to make informed decisions and our focus will be on normality in birth. We believe pregnancy is a natural process and the woman should be the centre of all decisions made about her care. Pregnancy and birth are very significant events in a woman's life and that of her family, so we aim to support women and their families to ensure that childbirth is a positive experience.

The care provided will respect the diversity of the woman’s needs and the variety of personal and cultural values of the woman and her family. We want the women we care for to feel safe, supported, confident and totally involved in all aspects of their care, regardless of background, culture or religious beliefs.

We aim to provide a holistic approach to care, so that women are able to make informed choices about the birth of their child. The care will be designed around the needs of the individual woman and the choices that she may wish to make.

We are committed to maintaining the highest possible standards of care, based upon recommended best practice, the expertise of a Midwife and current evidence-based research. We aim to provide a welcoming and relaxed environment for women with uncomplicated pregnancies, as we believe it is essential in successful Midwife-led care.

Where is it?

The Unit is on Floor D of the new Pontefract Hospital. A team of Midwives, supported by Healthcare Assistants, runs the unit.  

The Facilities

The facilities we offer are purpose-built en suite rooms. Our Unit is a safe and secure place, with 24-hour CCTV in operation. All rooms are equipped with televisions and chairs to provide additional comfort and relaxation in a ‘home from home’ environment.

The Unit has four birthing rooms, including one with a pool. Each of our rooms has been designed with your comfort and safety in mind.

The rooms contain bean bags, birthing balls, active birthing couches and other equipment to help you remain active, move about and adopt whatever positions you find most comfortable throughout labour. We welcome and value the presence of partners and/or birth supporters, and will try to work with everyone present, so that you have a positive birthing experience.

The benefit of the Midwife-led Unit is that you can go home more quickly and this could be after two hours from a normal birth. If you or your baby develop complications and need a longer stay, there are postnatal beds available for you at a Consultant-led Maternity Unit

Pain Relief

The birthing rooms at the Midwife-led Unit are designed to help you relax and stimulate the release of your natural pain-relieving hormones. Active birth is promoted, you will be supported in your chosen method of pain relief and encouraged to use your own coping mechanisms for labour and birth. We can also provide additional support such as wheat bags, gas and air and/or meptid (an injection).

You will be encouraged to labour in whatever positions you feel most comfortable, and to be as mobile as you would like, moving around the unit freely or going for a walk when in early labour.

You may make use of furniture and equipment in the room, including:
· Active birthing couches
· Birthing balls
· Beanbags
· Music (please feel free to bring your own music and practice your own relaxation techniques).

TENS machines (Transcutaneous Electronic Nerve Stimulation) 

This gentle electric current is passed through four flat pads, which are fixed to your back, creating a tingling feeling. This is especially helpful at the beginning of the labour and with backache. It has no harmful effects on your baby.  You will need to buy or hire a TENS machine and bring it in with you. 

Entonox (gas and air)

This is inhaled through either a mouthpiece of a mask.  It is a very simple but effective form of analgesia (pain relief), which you control. It does not take the pain away, but does take the edge off the pain from contractions. It has no harmful effects on your baby.


The use of water as a method of pain relief and relaxation is very popular amongst pregnant women. The benefits of labouring in water are described in our Having a waterbirth section.


This is a drug that is given in the form of an injection and is commonly used for pain relief in labour. It does not completely take away the pain of contractions, but it does help you to feel more relaxed and comfortable. There are side effects to these drugs, which can make you feel a bit sick, but giving you another drug with them can help counteract this.


Epidural is not available on the Midwife-led Unit. If you need an epidural you will be transferred to a Consultant-led Maternity Unit

What if there are complications?

If there are any concerns during your labour or after birth at the midwife led unit, you will be transferred by ambulance to the consultant unit at Pinderfields.  Women who have already had a baby are much less likely to need to transfer.  The most common reasons for transferring to hospital are concerns about the baby’s condition or where labour does not appear to be progressing.  You may also choose to transfer if you decide that you want an epidural during labour. 
Around 80% of women choosing to labour at the midwife led unit deliver there, with the rest choosing to transfer for additional pain relief or being transferred by the midwife because of increased risk for mother or baby.  .


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