bristol • north somerset • south gloucestershire

Midwife-led unit

In midwife-led units all care is provided by midwives and maternity care assistants. The units have home-like birth rooms designed to support natural labour and birth. Many rooms have a birth pool and some midwives are trained in complementary therapies. Gas and air and pethidine are also available, but epidurals are not.

Midwife-led units do not have their own doctors, so if any problem starts to develop during labour or after the birth, you will need to be transferred to a consultant-led unit. If you were at Cossham Birth Centre this would normally be to Southmead, and if you were at Ashcombe Birth Centre this would be to St Michael's, as this would be safest once labour has started. Birth partners would usually be expected to make their own way to hospital in case of transfer. The midwives are trained to deal with emergencies, although these are rare. A study of over 65,000 births showed that birth in a midwife-led unit (either a stand-alone or alongside unit) is as safe for mother and baby as birth in hospital, regardless of whether women had had a baby before. The study also showed that women planning birth in a midwife-led unit were less likely to need interventions and more likely to have a normal birth.

It is normal in birth centres for partners to be able to stay the night with you once your baby is born. Partners can stay the night at Cossham and Ashcombe Birth Centres and at St. Michael's midwife-led unit.  

Where you choose to give birth does not depend on which Trust provides your care in pregnancy, so you can book to give birth in any of the units listed.


Stand-alone midwife-led units

Ashcombe Birth Centre (Weston Area Health NHS Trust)

Weston General Hospital
Grange Road
Somerset BS23 4TQ
01934 647082

Cossham Birth Centre (North Bristol NHS Trust)


Cossham Hospital
Lodge Road
Bristol BS15 1LF
0117 340 8460

Alongside midwife-led units
(in same building as consultant-led unit) 

Mendip Birth Centre (North Bristol NHS Trust)  mendipBC1.jpg

The Birth Suite has moved to a different area in the Southmead
Hospital maternity building and is now called Mendip Birth Centre. 

Southmead Hospital
Bristol BS10 5NB
0117 414 6900

St Michael’s Midwife-led Unit stmichaels_midwife-led_unit1.jpg(University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust)

St. Michael's Hospital
Southwell Street
Bristol BS2 8EG
0117 342 1807 or 0117 342 5010 (please try both numbers)