Alongside Midwifery Unit (Birth Centre)

Alongside Midwifery Units (AMU) or birth centres are more comfortable and homely than an Obstetric Unit (OU) in a hospital. They are part of a hospital maternity unit, where pregnancy (obstetric), newborn (neonatal) and anaesthetic care is available.

Advantages of an AMU include:

  • being in surroundings where you may feel more relaxed and better able to cope with labour
  • being more likely to be looked after by a midwife you have got to know during your pregnancy
  • lower likelihood of having an intervention such as forceps or ventouse ┬áthan women giving birth in an OU

Should you require to be transferred to the OU, this will be quicker than if at a home or in and FMU.

Should you require obstetric or neonatal support, during or following birth, this can be provided quicker than if at home or in an FMU.


There are some things to think about if you’re considering giving birth in an AMU.

You may need to be transferred to the OU if there are any complications. The Birthplace study found that approximately 4 in 10 women having their first baby in an AMU were transferred to OU, compared with approximately 1 in 10 women having their second or subsequent baby.

Whilst the unit is alongside the OU, you will still not be able to have certain kinds of pain relief, such as an epidural.

Planning a birth in an AMU is similar to that of FMU

Ask you midwife if you have any risk factors which may make birthing at an AMU unsuitable?