How a Portsmouth hospital’s open day has prepared families for their newborns 

Becky Haddow from Stamshaw in the pool room at St Mary's Hospital. Picture: Vernon Nash
Becky Haddow from Stamshaw in the pool room at St Mary's Hospital. Picture: Vernon Nash

A HOSPITAL open day means families in the Portsmouth region are more at ease for welcoming expected babies into their lives.

The maternity unit at St Mary’s Hospital in Milton Road, Portsmouth, held an open day on Saturday, to remind prospective parents that there are alternatives to giving birth at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham.

At the event, visitors learned more about homebirth, the ward’s pool room, breastfeeding and other pregnancy tips and tricks.

Chelsea Sheehan, 18 from Portsmouth, is 35 weeks into her pregnancy.

She said: ‘I’ve never done anything like this before so today has been really good.

‘I’ve learned about what to expect with the weight and the different rooms here at the hospital.

‘I feel much more prepared now and can’t wait for my little boy to arrive – we’re going to call him Hanley.’

Paul Jackson, 33 from Waterlooville, came along to the open day with his wife, who is also expecting a baby boy.

He said: ‘My wife is already having midwife appointments here – but today has been really interesting.

‘They had these empathy bellies for guys to try – I thought my beer belly meant I understood what she was going through, but I get it a whole lot more now!

‘We definitely want to come here for her to give birth because we really like it here.

‘It’s going to be our first baby so we’re really excited.’

The number of births at St Mary’s has fallen in recent years – which is part of the reason why the open day has taken place.

Midwife Sarah Finch said: ‘We just wanted to remind people that they can come here to have their baby.

‘The number of babies being born here each year has been falling but we have some incredibly facilities here, such as the pool room, which can make giving birth a much easier experience.

‘Today has been great – there have been so many people asking so many questions, like the length of their stay after giving birth and details about breastfeeding, so it has been a really positive thing to do.’