Newborn baby holding parent's hand

Hospital birth centre (labour ward)

Caring for you while you give birth in hospital

For more information about our maternity services, visit our maternity pages.

Newborn baby holding parent's hand

Visitor information

Please speak to the nurse-in-charge for up-to-date information on visiting.

You're welcome to bring 1 or 2 named birth partners to support you during labour and birth.

If you feel you need more support, please talk to us and we'll do our best to help.

Sometimes we might need to ask extra supporters to wait outside the labour and birth room.

After your baby is born, you'll usually go to the postnatal ward where family members and friends can visit.

We do not allow children under the age of 16 in the birth centres unless they are your own children. This is to reduce the risk of infection. For more information, see our visiting hours page.

Please ask the midwives at the birth centre if you have any questions.

Your stay at the hospital birth centre

Our centre consists of:

  • a 3-bed suite for induction of labour
  • 13 single, labour and birth rooms with private bathrooms
  • a 3-bed recovery room for care after a caesarean or other surgical birth
  • a 3-bed high dependency unit
  • 2 dedicated specialist obstetric (maternity) theatres
  • 2 dedicated rooms on the Butterfly suite for specialist care when experiencing a loss in pregnancy

Our team is made up of:

  • midwives
  • midwifery support workers
  • obstetricians (doctors who specialise in pregnancy and birth)

Our birth centre includes its own maternity (obstetric) theatres. These are staffed by specialist nurses and anaesthetists.

Arriving at the hospital birth centre

If you think you're in labour, please contact your named midwife or the hospital birth centre.

You'll be given advice on when to come into hospital. Please call before you come so our midwives are expecting you.

Please remember to bring:

  • your maternity notes
  • any medicines you take

When you arrive, take the lift to the hospital birth centre and show our receptionist your maternity notes.

If you're having a planned induction or elective caesarean section, please tell the receptionist.

A midwife will check you and your baby and how far your labour has progressed.

We'll talk to you about your plans for birth and tell you which midwife is going to look after you.

Birth rooms

Once your labour is established, you'll go into a single room and a midwife will provide one-to-one care.

Established labour is usually when you're having regular contractions and your cervix is dilating at least 4 centimetres.

Each room has: 

  • en suite bath, shower and toilet facilities 
  • a comfortable chair for your birth partners
  • birth balls, birth mats and bean bags available
  • the option of aromatherapy oils, your midwife can advise you on using these
  • special warmer and equipment for babies who need extra care straight after birth
  • adaptable lighting and sound, for example you may wish to have low lighting in the room or play your own music

We aim to create a calm, private and quiet environment for you to give birth. You may choose to use relaxation and self-hypnosis techniques. Our coping with labour page has more information.

Care during labour

During labour and birth you'll be given 1-to-1 care by a midwife.

Midwives in our birth centres usually work 12-hour shift:

  • 7.30am to 8pm
  • 7.30pm to 8am

Sometimes they may work shorter shifts from 7.30am to 3pm or midday to 8pm.

We'll tell you who your midwife is at the start of each day or night shift. This means you'll have a change of midwife in the morning or evening, and sometimes in the early afternoon.

We're a teaching hospital and your midwife may have students working with them. If you do not wish students to be involved in your care, please let us know.

Mealtimes

It is important to eat and drink during labour.

You can bring your own favourite snacks and drinks and we offer:

  • snacks and sandwiches on request
  • free hot drinks at all times from our tea trolley in the kitchenette
  • a hot meal service

We'll tell you if you need to stop eating during labour and explain the reasons why.

After birth, we ask your visitors to use the food and drink facilities on the ground floor of the main hospital entrance lobby.

Using your mobile phone

You can use your mobile phone on the ward. Please respect other patients while using it, especially when they are asleep. Please keep it on silent at all times.

Tell us what you think

We hope your stay is as pleasant as possible. If you or your visitors have a question or concern, please

Contact us

How to find us

St Thomas' Hospital
7th floor, North Wing
Westminster Bridge Road
London SE1 7EH

Directions

Turn right at St Thomas' main reception towards North Wing (green zone). Take the lift to the 7th floor and follow signs to the hospital birth centre. 

You cannot get to the 7th floor by the stairs from the lower ground floor. If you are coming from the lower ground floor please take the lift.

Last updated: May 2022

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Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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