What is a midwifery unit?
A midwifery unit or birth centre is a maternity unit that offers a social model of care, where birth is viewed primarily as a physiological event. Midwifery units are situated either 'alongside' a labour ward or delivery suite in an obstetric unit (hospital), or 'freestanding' in a community setting, usually some distance from an obstetric unit. Both types of midwifery units are run by experienced midwives, who try to make the birthing environment homely and tranquil.
Here are the Birthplace terms and definitions.
Please click here for our Policy Research Briefing 1, which sets out what is meant by a midwifery unit and some of the history and philosophy behind midwifery unit care.
Our Policy Research Briefing 2 provides a summary of the key aspects of clinical effectiveness associated with midwifery unit care in England, and comments on the extent to which research in England is transferable.