IT USED to be the hospital where most women in the Portsmouth area gave birth.
But over the past few years, the birthing rates at St Mary’s Hospital, in Milton, have declined.
To remind prospective parents of their options, the maternity unit at the hospital off Milton Road are holding an open day.
The event will give parents and their families the chance to meet staff, look around the facilities and learn about the options at the centre.
Community midwife Sarah Finch has helped organise the event.
She said: ‘We have seen a decline in the number of women giving birth at St Mary’s.
‘It is a low-risk birthing centre for anyone who has no underlying medical conditions and have had a straight forward pregnancy.
‘We know there are certain ladies who cannot give birth here and need a ward with a doctor available but for many women, we can be the right choice.
‘Our birthing centre has recently been redesigned to be more homely. We have changed it around so thought this would be a good time to invite everyone from the community to come meet us.
‘It can be a little intimidating for women to give birth in a place that’s unfamiliar so this is about allowing them to see the centre.’
The open day will have tours of the maternity centre including its birthing pools and active birth rooms, stalls from the Breastfeeding Network and Portsmouth Nappy Network and cakes and refreshments.
Staff will also be there to answer questions and meet visitors along with student midwives from Bournemouth University.
This is the first time the centre has held an open day and Sarah said it is important for parents to know what choices are available.
‘The decline in birthing rates is due to a number of factors,’ she added.
‘The main services moved to Queen Alexandra Hospital which meant the type of births we could have reduced. Also, when the campus was being renovated, we didn’t have a proper centre.
‘But in their latest inspection of the maternity services offered by Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, the Care Quality Commission said women locally were being denied choice.
‘We should be doing more to help women and bring to their attention what we offer.’
The open day is on Saturday, September 1 between 10am and 4pm on the second floor of the main building at St Mary’s Hospital.