Having your baby at The Barkantine Birth Centre

Having your baby at The Barkantine Birth Centre

Temporary closure of Barkantine Birth Centre

Our Barkantine Birth Centre is experiencing some operational pressures at present and will be closed to deliveries until further notice. Other maternity services including postnatal care, antenatal care and booking services are continuing at the centre. 

Our priority is keeping our patients and staff safe, so we thank you for your understanding. Women who were due to visit the centre will be contacted individually and our other maternity services at The Royal London Hospital are continuing to run as normal. 

Our centre

The Barkantine Birth Centre (Isle of Dogs) is a free-standing midwifery-led unit. We call it our low-risk midwifery unit with a home from home environment.

Although not physically connected to a hospital maternity unit, the birth centre works closely with The Royal London Hospital. Our services are available for women who expect to have an uncomplicated pregnancy and who go into labour between 37 and 42 weeks.

Over 2000 women have given birth to their babies naturally at the Barkantine Birth Centre, and our facilities can support up to 400 births a year each.

We know that the right support and environment can make a huge difference to you and your baby’s experience of labour and birth. We want you to have a safe and positive experience and we work hard to make this happen.

The combination of our highly experienced midwives and our clean and comfortable facilities, provide a warm, welcoming and nurturing stay for all parents and their babies.

If you are interested in having your baby with us, talk to your midwife, GP or you can contact us directly.

Why choose a freestanding midwifery unit?

The ‘Birth place study’ research in 2011 found that midwifery units are safe for women with ‘low-risk’ pregnancies. Women who planned to give birth at freestanding midwifery units also had significantly fewer interventions during labour and birth, compared to women who chose obstetric units or alongside midwifery units.

Women who choose to have their baby in a birth centre generally have a greater chance of:

  • birthing naturally, with an
  • improved birth experience
  • reduced interventions
  • the decreased need for pain relief
  • higher breast feeding rates

What we offer

What do we offer before birth?

Our midwives can take over your antenatal care once you reach 36 weeks. To help you prepare for labour and birth, we provide:

  • Active birth workshops including information on feeding and water birth
  • Birth centre tours to familiarise yourself with the centre and our rooms
  • 24 hour telephone support and advice

What do we offer during labour?

To help you relax and focus during labour, we provide:

  • One-to-one midwifery care
  • Midwives experienced with water birth, birth in upright positions and hypnobirthing
  • Clean and welcoming individual rooms where partners can stay. Each of our rooms come fully equipped with ensuite bathroom (some with disabled en-suite facilities), gas and air, (plus Pethidine if required) for pain relief, double bed, cot, sofa or armchair, and CD or iPod facilities, television and balcony
  • Kitchen for women and staff to prepare meals and drinks
  • Formula feeding facilities and information

What do we offer after birth?

Once your baby is born our expert breastfeeding counsellors can help you and your newborn to establish breastfeeding. Further support for you during the postnatal period also includes:

  • Postnatal follow-up care from a midwife
  • Newborn assessment within 72 hours of birth
  • 24 hour telephone support and advice
  • Baby well-being clinics
  • Information about local parents’ groups
  • Breastfeeding drop in sessions

Most women who give birth at Barkentine go home within 6 to 24 hours after birth.

What happens if there are complications?

As a midwife-led service, there are no specialist doctors such as obstetricians, neonatologists or anaesthetists on site. For this reason, the freestanding birth centres are only suitable for women with low-risk pregnancies.

Our expert midwives are highly experienced and trained to detect problems as they arise and to take the necessary actions to keep you and your baby safe. The midwifery team will offer regular monitoring to ensure the wellbeing of you and your baby and any concerns will be explained to you so that you are involved in all plans and decision making.

If a complication arises during your labour this is likely to occur gradually over a period of time, meaning there is ample opportunity for midwives to recognise and act on these warning signs. The majority of transfers from the Barkantine are for non-emergency reasons.

In the event of any concerns or in an emergency, women are transferred by ambulance to The Royal London Hospital. The journey takes approximately 15 minutes by ambulance and one our midwives will accompany you.

Visitors and visiting hours

Women can choose who they would like to be with them during labour and birth. We suggest that you keep this to a small number to maintain a calm and quiet environment. Please be aware there are limited waiting areas available at the birth centre. You are able to tell your friends and family about your progress by phone.

Your partner and your children are welcome to visit at any time and each room is furnished with a double bed to enable your partner to stay with you and your baby overnight. Other guests wishing to visit you may come between 8am and 8pm.

At busy times staff may need to limit the amount of visitors present.

Find out more

You can find out more about having your baby at the Barkantine Birth Centre by speaking with our midwives during a tour of the centre. You can tour our birth centre after your 20 week scan. To book a tour you can either contact us directly, or be referred by your GP or midwife.

Please allow approximately one hour for the visit, which includes:

  • A tour of the centre by a midwife
  • Viewing of at least one of our rooms
  • A question and answer session
  • An introduction to our philosophy of care and function of the centre
  • Information about the process in case of transfer, in an emergency

Contact us

Contact us

Visit us

Our birth centre is in the Isle of Dogs

Our address

The Barkantine Birth Centre is located at Barkantine Birth Centre 121 Westferry Road, London, E14 8JH

Have your baby with us

If you would like to have your baby in our birth centre or would like more information, please discuss your intentions with your midwife.

Contact us

Phone us on 0207 791 8000

  • RLH maternity feedback

    Mum, Simona and baby Melissa. 

    "We will never forget the lovely sonographer lady who told us we were expecting a girl. Our midwives were professional and supportive and I cannot thank the staff enough for a healthy baby. You are stars!"


  • Baby Aurora, The Royal London Hospital

    The midwife that was with me, Martina, was so kind and gentle, her smile made me feel safe and protected. I was scared but the entire staff was amazing and guided me through the whole process. Despite all the pain and my birth experience going exactly the opposite as I planned it, I still feel it was the best thing and all the staff who assisted me was great. 

  • Afsara, Royal London Hospital

    I am currently 40 weeks pregnant and I was treated with the most care and respect by one of the lovely midwives who work here. I just wanted to share my personal experience of feeling listened to at the time. She kindly answered all my questions and my husbands (believe me we had a lot of questions too).   

  • Louis S, Barkantine Birth Centre

    My baby is 15 months today and I’d like to give a very delayed “Thank You” to all the midwives who were there for us during covid and post birth. Everyone we met were very professional, kind, caring and thoughtful

  • Jo, Ryan & Baby Cora, Barkantine Birth Centre

    A sincere and heartfelt thank you to all your team for our safe delivery of baby, Cora on 26th October. 

    We loved their energy & determination during the pushing stage and felt they went above and beyond in the aftercare post delivery. 

    Overall, despite planning a home birth, we understood that being induced was the right decision. At every step we felt informed, supported and cared for in our birth journey. 

  • Latest news

    Stella Simon-Brown, a midwife at the Royal London Hospital for over 20 years, was awarded a national silver award by the Chief Midwifery Officer for England. 

    Stella started her career at Barts Health NHS Trust as a domestic worker, then moved on to a healthcare assistant role, and nurse before completing training to become a qualified midwife in 2005. 

    Read more