MORE than 3,000 women have a home-from-home birth at Blackburn’s midwife-led unit.

Opened in November 2010, the Birthing Centre, on Park Lee Road, offers a calm, personal alternative to the traditional maternity ward.

The centre has birthing pools, beautiful grounds and unlimited access for visitors plus birth preparation classes, hypnotherapy advice and baby yoga classes.

Experts say birthing centres can reduce the need for caesarean sections by providing a comfortable and natural environment.

Team leader and supervisor of midwives, Caroline Broom said: “The number of caesarean sections being performed is a huge challenge.“But not all women need a team of doctors and at the Birth Centre women are encouraged to progress through birth at their own pace, surrounded by experienced midwives in a relaxed and peaceful environment.”

One of the keys to the centre’s success is that women are designated a midwife at their antenatal appointment who follows them through pregnancy and may even be present at the birth. The centre then offers a ‘one stop shop’ with checks, examinations and vaccinations done in one place.

Nicola Bellusci used one of the birthing pools to have her third child Lewis at the centre. She said: “It’s such a nice, calming atmosphere . You can walk about outside and have your midwife with you.”

Music is an aid to relaxation at the centre and Nicola said she was so calm when she gave birth she sang along to songs on the radio.

Audley Range mum Freda Akhtarm, who had her fifth child at the centre, said: “This is much more of home, there is no stress and all the staff are smashing.”