MIDWIVES were hoping for a centenary of births as Huddersfield’s new birth centre was officially opened.
Ninety-nine babies have been delivered at the centre since it opened to new mums in March.
Staff were hoping for a 100th to mark the official opening by MPs Kali Mountford and Barry Sheerman yesterday.
Hospital bosses joined midwives and new mums to look round and celebrate its success so far.
The MPs unveiled a plaque to commemorate the day.
Ms Mountford, a mother-of-two and grandmother-of-five, said: “This centre is sending out a message to women that they can have their children born in Huddersfield in as natural environment as possible.
“This is the best place for mums to come and bring their babies into the world and be supported by their husbands and families, as well as many dedicated midwives.”
And Mr Sheerman said: “As a man I was something of a pioneer because I was at the side of my wife when she gave birth to our three daughters.
“At the time it was unusual for a young father to be there and I had to fight for it. But I was always glad I did.
“Seeing this now it makes me thankful that dads can share the experience as I did.
“It’s only when you come into hospital that you realise what a wonderful place it is and what wonderful people we have working in the NHS.
“It is a beautiful innovation and one which I hope many people will enjoy experiencing.”
The family birth centre has been described as a ‘home from home’, with midwives saying it offers women a relaxed and natural birthing experience.
There are six en suite birthing rooms, with adjustable beds for partners or family members to stay overnight.
Two of the rooms include birthing pools and all have birthing balls, soft mats and music systems to create a natural environment to give birth in.
Women can also take advantage of reflexology and homeopathy during childbirth and afterwards.
Centre manager Gina Augarde said: “The reaction so far has been phenomenal. The women who have given birth here have been overwhelmed by the facilities.
“It is now really important for us all to make sure this centre is part of the community. We want the community midwives to use the services and we want to offer drop-in clinics and classes for new mums to share the experience and learn from us.
“There are endless possibilities of what we want to achieve and I am looking forward to it.”
Diane Whittingham, chief executive of the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, said there was so much enthusiasm and commitment about the birth centre.
She said: “There is no doubt that the birth centre has been a success.
“The feedback has been superb, especially about the quality and the standard of the care women are receiving.
“We want the unit to go from strength to strength and continue to be a fantastic facility for women and their families.”
Martin De Bono, head of the children and women’s department, added: “We’ve had 99 births in 10 weeks, which is absolutely fantastic.
“I’d like to thank Kali and Barry for their support in what we are trying to achieve with health services in Huddersfield and Calderdale.”
Prof Mavis Kirkham, from Sheffield, was a special guest at the official opening.
She has been a leading midwife for around four decades and has long been a supporter of natural birth centres.
Helen Shallow, consultant midwife, praised her research over the years and thanked the professor for her support.
She said: “Fifteen years ago, if we’d have talked about a birth centre with the facilities we have here, people would have thought we were barking mad.
“But midwives throughout the country are looking at this model and seeing what a success it is.
“We are really excited about the birth centre.
“The key to its success is the reaction from the women who have used it, which so far has been truly wonderful and supportive.”