At your first visit, your midwife will help you plan your care before the birth (antenatal or prenatal care) and refer you for either your 12 week (first trimester) scan, or a scan to find out how far through your pregnancy you are (also known as a dating scan).
We run midwifery antenatal appointments and classes in a number of settings and locations across the county, including Health Centres, GP Practices, Children’s Centres and Penrice Birth Centre. Obstetric clinics are held in one of Cornwall’s community hospitals.
You’ll most likely come to the Fetal Medicine Unit at the Royal Cornwall Hospital for your prenatal screening. We also provide comprehensive care for complex pregnancies.
You’ll visit the Fetal Medicine Unit for:
You may be invited to the Maternity Day Assessment Unit (DAU) for assessment and monitoring if you have any pregnancy complications such as hypertension, bleeding, reduced movements, anaemia and ruptured membranes. We also provide individualised care to women who have experienced previous pregnancy loss at the Maternity DAU.
If you choose to give birth at home, you’ll be supported by the community midwife team. You call the oncall midwife when you go into labour and they will come to your home for the delivery. Most home births go as planned, and our consultants are always on hand to support and advise your midwife throughout the birth, but there is a chance you may need to come into hospital if you or your baby need additional support.
We have three specialist midwife-led birth centres in Cornwall; Penrice in St Austell, Helston and at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro.
The Penrice birth centre is run by a small team of midwives and maternity support workers; it is manned throughout a 24 hour period and has beds if you and your baby need to stay in overnight.
The birth centre at Helston is only available for labour and birth, we don’t have facilities at Helston for you stay overnight after you have given birth. Helston is not manned 24 hours, you simply call the on-call midwife when you are in labour and they will meet you at the centre.
Women on the Isles of Scilly can either have a home birth if they are on St Mary’s or if they live on one of the off islands then you can use the birthing room at St Mary’s Hospital.
The Delivery Suite is at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Treliske in Truro. The unit looks after women with medical, pregnancy or labour complications, women who are planning to have an epidural for pain relief, as well as women who deliver without complications.
If you live in the far north of Cornwall, you are also able to access the consultant-led units in Devon. Your midwife can advise you on this.
If a complication develops with you or your baby during a home birth or at one of our birth centres, we will need you to transfer to the consultant-led unit at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro. This transfer rate for women having their first baby is roughly 50%.
If you are likely to give birth before 26 weeks gestation, you will be transferred to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, either accompanied by a midwife before giving birth, or with a specialist transport team after you have given birth.
If you have your baby in the consultant-led unit or birth centre, you can usually go home a few hours after the birth. If you have had a caesarean, you will normally stay with us for 48 hours, but all care is based on the individual needs of each woman.
If your baby needs specialist care, they will be transferred to the Neonatal Unit at Royal Cornwall Hospital. Babies with complex health problems will receive intensive care.
For the majority of women and their babies, postnatal care is carried out at home. Your midwife will visit you the day after birth or discharge from hospital, on day five for the newborn blood spot screening and then to discharge you around 10 days after birth.