Maternity Services in the Pre-hospital Environment

What to expect when you contact 111/999 during pregnancy or childbirth

Congratulations on your pregnancy! Whether you are jumping for joy, still in a state of shock, or feeling a mixture of both – you can rest assured that should an emergency arise West Midland’s Ambulance Service are here to support you every step of the way to help you have a healthy pregnancy.

Pregnancy brings a variety of changes to the body both physical and emotional. Some of these changes will be common and expected changes, such as tiredness, nausea, unexpected mood changes etc. To less familiar concerns which require you to contact your booked maternity unit, named midwife or 999 for emergency pre-hospital maternity care.

Normal labour is not an emergency. Therefore, it is not considered appropriate to call an emergency ambulance for transportation to the hospital and to make your own way to hospital.

However, there may be instances where an ambulance may be needed, such as:

  • Fresh and heavy continuous bleeding (in excess of an egg-cup full)
  • The birth of baby is happening faster than expected and there is a strong urge to push
  • Sudden onset of severe and continuous abdominal pain
  • Waters have broken and your baby’s umbilical cord is noticeable outside the vagina
  • Your midwife has advised you to call 999
  • Other medical emergencies such as breathing difficulties, chest pain or fitting.

In the event of an emergency, stay on the line with our call handlers who can advise and support you until one of our crews arrive.

Please have your electronic / paper copy pregnancy notes ready for our crews upon their arrival and inform them of any complications in your medical history and pregnancy. This is so that they have all the necessary information to make decisions about the care for you and your baby as quickly as possible.

Please Note:

  • If you call 999 and it is NOT a life-threatening emergency, you may be referred to a clinician in 111 for an over-the-phone assessment or be advised to contact your booked maternity unit / midwife and make your own way to hospital.
  • In the event of an emergency, on occasions you may be transferred to the nearest maternity unit. Although, this may not be your booked hospital, it is important for the safety of you and your unborn baby.
  • If your baby is born at home and you require transport to hospital, for patient safety reasons and to coincide with seat belt regulations 2016. Unless a suitable 3-point car seat is provided, we may ask for you and your baby to travel in separate ambulances. We know this is not ideal, but it is important to ensure safety provisions for both you and your baby during your journey to hospital. Your birth partner is welcome to travel with you, or with your baby.
  • Unlike registered midwives, our frontline ambulance staff are not qualified to perform certain elements of midwifery care such as vaginal examinations, listening to babies’ heartbeat, facilitating water-births etc. Please try your best to follow their instructions if they ask you to perform an action, such as requesting you to come out of the water. This ensures ambulance crews work within their knowledge and scope of paramedic practice.
  • Ambulance staff may contact the maternity unit for advice / guidance. The maternity unit is the expert in the field so their guidance will be followed.
  • If a crew recommends you are taken to hospital, please follow their advice so a transfer can occur as safely and quickly as possible.

Please be respectful to all our staff whatever the situation. From call handlers to contact centre clinicians and our frontline crews, all our staff are working hard to perform their job in the best possible way to ensure you and your baby’s safety is maintained at all times.