A NEW mum says she was unable to have the birth she wanted because of a lack of facilities at Sunderland Royal Hospital.
Hayley Richardson, 25, wanted to have her first child, Lennon, in a birthing pool.
But although Tyneside has a number of birthing pools across its hospitals, Sunderland has none.
Now Hayley, who gave birth two months ago, is campaigning for parents on Wearside to be given the same birthing options as those elsewhere.
Hayley, of Holborn Road, Nookside, said: “I think Sunderland is definitely missing out.
“The benefits of water birth are huge and it’s proven that giving birth this way reduces stress to mother and baby, improves circulation and prevents the need for expensive pain relieving drugs such as an epidural.”
Although Hayley lives a five-minute drive from Sunderland Royal, she would have had to travel 10 miles to South Tyneside Hospital to have a water birth.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to have to travel to South Tyneside for a water birth when I live so close to the hospital in Sunderland. Birthing pools are commercially available for home use,” she said.
“But this obviously costs a lot of money – £500 per birth, in fact – not to mention the risks of giving birth away from hospital, especially for first-time mothers.”
Hayley added: “Lennon ended up being 11 days late and I had to have an emergency Caesarean, which meant a water birth was ruled out anyway.
“But I think this option should be made available.”
Hayley, who lives with husband Christopher, has written to Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott who raised the issue with the hospital’s chief executive.
Hayley has also set up a Facebook group – Birth Pool Sunderland Royal – which has the support of more than 150 members.
She said: “I’m trying to get enough support to prove that there is a demand for a birthing pool in Sunderland. Hopefully the hospital will listen.”
A hospital spokesman said: “The design of the maternity unit included a room for water births, but unfortunately the design proved inappropriate.
“We are redesigning the facility, and in the meantime we support water births in the home for any woman for whom such a birth would be clinically appropriate. Our midwives work on a rota, which ensures that this option for delivery is available.”
He added: “While most women choose to have their baby in a hospital environment, between 25-30 Sunderland births per year on average are planned home births, and of those, approximately a third are water births. Pools for home water births are commercially available, and women who wish to take advantage of our water birth service hire the pool themselves, with professional advice and assistance from their midwife.
“We are aware that some five women per year access the water birth facility at South Tyneside General Hospital. Although this number is small, we pride ourselves on providing all the services required by our local community, and therefore we continue to work towards providing a water birth service within the hospital environment.”