Maternity assessment unit (MAU)

The maternity assessment unit gives urgent and emergency care during your pregnancy, and sometimes in the weeks after birth. This service is different from your planned antenatal appointments and care during your pregnancy.

We provide emergency and follow-up care:

  • if you're at least 18 weeks pregnant
  • for up to 6 weeks after birth if you have postnatal problems like raised blood pressure, wound infection or heavy vaginal bleeding

Our unit is led by our midwives with support from a doctor who specialises in care during pregnancy, labour and after birth (obstetrician).

When to attend

You can walk in if you’re at least 18 weeks pregnant and have a pregnancy-related problem.


Where possible, please call us before going to the unit. You can speak to a midwife for advice by calling the unit on 020 7188 1723.

Go to the unit if:

  • your baby is less active than usual
  • you think your waters may have broken
  • you are bleeding from your vagina
  • you have tummy (abdominal) pain 
  • you are having labour pain (contractions)
  • your blood pressure is raised or there is protein in your urine (your midwife or GP will spot this)
  • you are having severe itching during pregnancy

Do not attend:

  • for routine antenatal check-ups, missed appointments with your midwife or doctor, or for a membrane sweep
  • if you have been in contact with flu, rubella or chicken pox. Please call a GP or us before you come in
  • if you're less than 18 weeks pregnant. Please contact or walk-in to our early pregnancy and gynaecology unit (EPAGU)

It's best to attend the hospital you usually care with, unless an emergency. This helps you to get the best care. Your midwife, obstetrician, GP and our scanning department can also refer you to us for an appointment.

Going to the unit at night

Please be aware that we have fewer staff to support during the night. You should still attend if it's nighttime and you have:

  • painful contractions
  • bleeding
  • your waters have ruptured
  • your baby is moving less

Otherwise, we recommend calling us first.

What to bring with you

Please bring your maternity notes (purple book) and any medicines you're taking.

You can bring one person for support. This could be your partner, a friend or family member.

If you are admitted for labour, you can have 2 people with you.

As our unit is for emergency care, please avoid bringing children and arrange childcare if you can. We understand this may not always be possible.

What to expect when you visit

Please be aware that you might be at the unit for 2 to 3 hours. 

We'll assess you when you arrive. This is called triage and means we see people in order of urgency rather than by when they arrive. 

You'll be seen by a midwife and they'll involve a doctor in the consultation if needed. We may do some tests, including:

  • observations
  • monitoring your baby's heart rate
  • laboratory specimens
  • emergency scans, if needed

You may need to wait for blood test results to come back. This can take up to 3 hours.

If you need regular appointments at the unit, we'll make these between 8am and midday.


We have different maternity wards depending on why you're staying in hospital:

Research and clinical trials

Research is vital to improving the care that you receive when you're unwell. You can help improve healthcare by taking part in research studies at our Trust. During your appointment, ask your healthcare professional about research. They'll be happy to tell you about research studies you could be eligible to join.

Last updated: January 2024

Contact us

We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including bank holidays.

Please call our maternity helpline for urgent clinical queries.

Phone: 020 7188 1723

Address: 7th floor, North Wing, St Thomas’ Hospital, Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7EH


Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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