Second births and MLU's

Went to the GP this afternoon and made this official....scary! Anyway as predicted she started talking about the local MLU being the perfect place for me this time, i know the MW will push it on me at my booking in as well. Our local hospital serves a huge area and is very busy, it's also hugely popular where people might have a choice with another as it has all ensuite rooms and is pretty new. Given this there is a huge push on low risk pregnancies, especially second time mums, using the MLUs. 

I had a straightforward birth with P and so i knew they'd suggest it. Wasn't expecting quite so much suggestion until i got to the MW at least though! 

The MLU is slightly closer to my house (a pro i guess as i went from 1cm to birth in 3 hours) but is 20mins from the hospital (on a good day/non-rush hour) if you need to be transferred. The other pro is you have your own MW1 on 1 the whole time, with P they didn't believe me when i said i was progressing and H kept having to search for MWs. HOwever, the thought of being away from doctors and a theatre and a neonatal unit, should i need them, terrifies me. 

So i have 2 questions;

1. if  you had a straight forward birth with #1, was #2 also straight forward (GP said i was BOUND to have another easy birth!! I corrected her with the word easy, turns out she has no kids!!)

2. If you used a MLU did you like it? Was it attached to a hospital? I'd have no issue if it was part of the hospital and not 20 minutes away. 

I'm pretty sure i've already made up my mind, and as the GP reluctantly admitted i can choose, but i thought i'd at least think about it a bit given there are a couple of pros. 


  • Ours was on the ward below the delivery , theatres etc of the same hospital so not really an issue. As it was, when it came to labour I went to the delivery suite and they asked me why I didn't want to go to the MLU. I told them I didn't know how I was going to cope with the pain (no epidurals on the MLU)!!!! I had J using gas and air within 2 hours of arriving so maybe I should have gone to the MLU after all!

  • Its the unpredictability of it isn't it? In hindsight i could have had P at the MLU but i didn't know that, plus i was begging for an epidural but it was too late by the time i got to delivery!!

    If it was in the hospital i'd definitely go for it.

  • I was induced with O but went to the local MLU with L, both births were straightforward despite O being evicted. The MLU was closer to home and was very quiet (I was on the ward all by myself) and I was told that if I needed to be transferred, then my MW would stay with me, so I would have some form of continuity with my care. It would have ales been a 20 min transfer too and it did cross my mind about there being issues, but I felt that there were no issues with L and they MWs would know what they would do in the event of a transfer. I think you can change your mind up to when you're in labour about where you give birth, in case you have a change of heart. I know that I would go to my MLU again as I had such great care there but it's under threat of closure.

  • Tricky. Everyone I know that used it loves the MLU but I reckon half the people I know have been transferred to hospital during labour -  i cant think of anything worse than an ambulance ride in the throes of labour. The bonus though is that if you are booked in at the MLU and you can get transferred to the hospital for birth you can get transferred back to the MLU to stay afterwards where you'll get more one to one support with getting feeding established.

    I didnt consider the MLU - to me it offered no more benefits than a homebirth because of the transfer issue. I would have rather been at home (obviously not an option second time round). I guess cos the hosiptal is so nice and doesnt have wards either the benefit of the MLU is dimished even further.

  • I wouldn't even consider going anywhere that was 20 mins (in non rush hour) away from medical staff sorry.

  • How long is it in rush hour? The thought of being blue lighted with possibly a paramedic/possibly a technician scares the living sh1t out if me

  • My MLU was attached to the hospital. I had a straightforward north and loved it. Our friend went to the MLU 20mins away, needed assistance and had to be blue lighted across town. It's a piece if string question, but on balance I'd feel uncomfortable not being hospital attached, I'm pretty risk averse

  • I had isla at the MLU but again it was attached to the hospital. I will definitely opt for this for no 2. Having to go on to a labour ward with god knows how many other women in labour and machines and doctors rushing about terrifies me!! Just hope the MLU is free when I ring. Ours only takes one lady at a time.

  • I had a mlu birth with O, but at Medway their new unit was literally just across the corridor from delivery suite should I need it, however as I was (and still am) keen on the more relaxed nature of the mlu I would've used regardless. If we're to have another we'd not have a mlu to consider as our area doesn't seem to offer and that scares me, so I'd be more likely to opt for a homebirth.


  • If the hospital has all private rooms that would be it for me- but then again the thought of not being at the hospital and all the equipment/specialists etc scares me.

    Either way though, if you do decide to go for the hospital and they seem to keep pushing the mlu I would maybe ask them to put it in your notes that you have made your decision and don't want them to keep asking as it sounds like it might be one ofcthises things where they will push it in you at every opportunity even if you've already said no before.

  • I'd only pick the MLU if it was attached to the hospital. Ours was and I wanted to go there but couldn't as I was induced. However I had a lovely experience in the delivery suite, two midwives looking after me, I can't see how it would have been ANY different in the MLU as I wasn't interested in a water birth. It's the same beds etc, plus in the delivery suite you get the option of an epidural although I didn't have one. Labour is labour in my mind, whether I'm doing it in one hospital bed or another makes no difference to me.

  • Can I ask what your gut instinct is?

  • Only have the one kid, but I gave birth at a MLU. My hospital is literally around the corner and the MLU was around 20min away (on a good run) The local hospital didn't appeal to me one bit, I wasn't worried about drugs and I wasn't concerned about something going wrong and being transferred (naively maybe) H was a little worried but I think my PMA convinced him. I would do it again 100% but I understand that it went so well for me. We had a private room with ensuite, double bed - H stayed over night with me, we were fed well and looked after amazingly. I just think they have more time for that one-on-one. I didn't want to bf and it was never pushed on me, all in all it was fab! I'm going to try home birth next time, but if not, we'll be going back there Smile

  • WPipS, what's your gut instinct? The 20 minutes on a good day - how much longer could it take at the wrong time?

    Personally, I wouldn't use the MLU here, but it's 30 minutes to the hospital with a labour ward on a good day and a lot more in rush hour or with problems. I know too many people who have given birth in the back of an ambulance en route to make it a consideration (not that I get a choice anyway!)

  • Ultimately it is your choice.

    Where I am I had a choice between a MLU or a MLU at the hospital which also had theater neonatal etc...

    We originally decided that we would go down the hospital route as for us by car it was only 5-10 min longer it was my first baby and I wanted to be a lift ride away from Drs rather than an ambulance transfer. ( I am risk adverse)

    As it turned out we ended up at the local MLU because the hospital was full and not overly helpful when we rang (but thats another story).

    The MLU was fab we had a lovely midwife 121 care, aroma therapy etc our MLU is lovely though large rooms all en suite etc, also having spoken to NCT people who went to the main hospital it was a much more rushed experience they saw multiple members of staff and were shipped through at speed where as we were able to spend the first night with our newborn at the MLU.

    Things you should look into is is the transfer time you have the ambulance blue light time or for you in a car? Your MW should be able to provide you with average transfer times. So for us by car transfer would be 15-30 min depending on trafic but transfer time quoted door to door by ambulance is 8-12.

    the MW and the MLU should be well versed into when to transfer and err on the side of caution so you are transfered sooner rather than later (no waiting to see what will happen)

    Do what makes you happy once you have done the research, I thought the MLU with out hospital support woul be terrifying but it was fine  ( That said I did make the MW promise to transfer me if she even suspected I needed it).

    Also if we have a number two I will do my research again re transfer time staffing levels and so on as they can change so quickly.

  • Thanks ladies. Interesting to hear all your views.

    My gut instinct is to go to the hospital where i had P. Despite them disagreeing with my progression i didn't have a bad experience there, P was actually delivered by the community MW who i'd seen throughout my pregnancy. And there are no wards, the post natal 'ward' is all private rooms.

    I have several friends who went to the MLU and all ended up being transferred bar one, and her baby ended up needing transfer after the birth.

    I am a worrier and despite P's birth being straightforward i can't help but think of worst case scenarios for this time. I actually spoke to H more about it last night and he said very firmly he wants us in hospital. I know if i felt strongly the other way he'd go with me but he said he wants us both in hospital where we have everything we might need within arms reach. I'm glad i spoke to him actually as i was really only thinking about the baby but his concern was for me as well, which i forget about.

  • I asked your gut instinct because mine is very biased! I've been at a MLU that was attached to a hospital although they didn't co-operate with each other. I'd always choose the medical environment now knowing what I know but I think of all the people who have no issues at all and think how lovely the experience must be.

  • When I had #1 I was worried about going to MLU because like you, it was in a different town so chose to go to the main hospital. It ended up that I had to anyway because I was induced and then when my waters broke there was meconium in them so I would have been transferred anyway. The rest was pretty straightforward.

    With #2 I wanted a homebirth but H was against it. I looked around the MLU and it was so lovely I decided that was where I was going to go. The unit is very quiet but my time there was fabulous. H could stay with me overnight as all the rooms are private with ensuite. I had a wonderfully easy water birth with lots of time for skin to skin and time for the midwifes to help with breastfeeding if needed.

    Sadly the local MLU shut down a month ago due to the time it is currently taking for an ambulance to arrive if needed (rather than the time it takes to get to the nearest hospital.

  • This isn't me (I didn't have a straightforward birth with either so a MLU would never have worked for me) but my sister had 2 out of 3 in MLU. The first birth went very well, she had her water birth, baby was fine, mummy was fine. She and one other lady were the only people in the unit for 5 days. Her experience was incredible and I recall hoping for the same back then. Her second birth went wrong once baby J had arrived. Strep B went unnoticed for a while (my mother noticed it of all people after complaining of a strange smell to a MW). My sister rapidly became very poorly within hours, lost a lot of blood and passed out. The experience was chaotic, the unit was busy and staff seemed almost incompetent (it was a different MLU to the previous one in that the first place had been knocked down and this new 'hospital' had replaced it nearby. My sister and nephew were sent to hospital 20 minutes away (it took 50 minutes for this to be arranged and for her to arrive at the hospital!) and she stayed there for a fortnight as she was very weak and baby was very poorly. Her final pregnancy was in a hospital, the same hospital that she was transferred to and where my E was born. She had Baby C within 45 minutes of arriving, very calm, very natural and as he came before the staff had chance to give her the injections required for Strep B, the whisked him straight off to special care and did this daily until he was clear and strong enough to go home (3 days).

    If you MLU is attached to all the facilities you will need for complications, then I'd say go for it. I think everyone will have had a mix of good and bad experiences but you will have to do what you are comfortable with (and you H, I considered a MLU with E but H point blank refused to go with me due to lack of facilities Laugh )

    I am still ridiculously excited for you AR !!

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