Royal visit for Lothian Birth Centre

Midwives, mothers and babies, at the midwife-led Lothian Birth Centre at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE), are set to welcome a royal visitor. HRH The Princess Royal will visit the centre at 11:30 a.m. on Monday 28th May 2012 in her role as Patron of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), and will see midwife-led care in action.

RCM President Lesley Page, who qualified as a midwife at the RIE in 1966, and senior staff, along with NHS Lothian staff and local dignitaries will accompany Her Royal Highness during her visit.  The Princess Royal will also meet birth centre staff and mothers who have given birth in the new facility to hear about their experiences of midwife-led care at the unit.  The visit will highlight the work being done by midwives and other members of staff at the birth centre to enhance womens’ pregnancy and birth experiences.

NHS Lothian’s first birth centre opened in October 2011.The midwife-led facility is next to the Simpson Centre for Reproductive Health at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE). Simpson’s is the biggest maternity unit in Scotland with more than 6,000 babies born every year, and the centre has been created to give mums more choice about the birth of their baby. There have been 726 births at the centre since it opened and the feedback from  mothers and their families has been very positive. Around 1,500 low risk women are expected to give birth at the centre each year.

Commenting on the visit, President of the Royal College of Midwives Lesley Page, who worked as a night sister at the RIE from 1967-68, said: “I am delighted that the Princess Royal is making this visit. It is a wonderful opportunity to show her midwife-led care in action in Edinburgh, and how this can benefit mothers, babies and their families and provide them with long-term health benefits.”  

“Birth Centres offer a much more home-like birth environment. Women using them are more likely to have a birth without unnecessary medical interventions and will receive one-to-one care from a midwife when in labour.  The feedback midwives get from women who have given birth in birth centres is very positive, and I would strongly encourage women to really consider this as a viable option.”

RCM Director for Scotland Gillian Smith said: “This birth centre and others like it in Scotland are wonderful environments for women and their families, and I hope that this Royal visit will raise the profile of midwife-led care even further in Scotland. I know that the midwives at the Simpson Centre for Reproductive Health will be honoured by this royal visit.”

Maria Wilson, Chief Midwife for NHS Lothian, said:  “We are honoured and delighted that the Princess Royal has chosen to visit our birth centre in her capacity as Patron of the Royal College of Midwives. The birth centre has a dedicated and professional workforce and they provide excellent and highly-valued services to local women, babies and families. This visit helps provide further recognition of the value of midwife-led care.”


For more information contact Manuela Fernandes, RCM Senior Press Officer, on 0207 312 3433 or 020 7312 3456; On May 28th, she can be reached on 0770 332 1661 or  in Edinburgh, or Carol Harris at NHS Lothian on on 0131 465 5652.

Journalists wishing to attend the visit must contact Manuela Fernandes to arrange approval and security clearance well in advance of the visit. A photographer commissioned by the RCM will be attending the event and copyrighted photographs can be obtained after the event.

Visit Schedule

11:30 Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal arrives at the Birth Centre

11:33 RCM President Professor Lesley Page presents RCM staff and NHS Lothian staff to The Princess Royal.

11:40 HRH will be shown a birthing room and will have the opportunity to meet mothers, fathers and babies who have given birth in the facility.

HRH will visit the midwives’ station and meet three staff working there.

Retire to the Arthur’s Seat Room for tea and coffee.

12:00 HRH will meet invited guests in groups of six to eight.

12:35 HRH will leave the building.

Notes to editors

About the RCM
The Royal College of Midwives is the voice of midwifery. We are the UK’s only trade union and professional organisation led by midwives for midwives. The vast majority of the midwifery profession are our members. The RCM promotes midwifery, quality maternity services and professional standards. We support and represent our members individually and collectively in all four UK countries.  We influence on behalf of our members and for the interests of the women and families for which they care.  For more information visit the RCM website at

About the Birth Centre at The Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh

NHS Lothian’s new £2.8 million Birth Centre opened in October 2011 and is connected to the Simpson Centre for Reproductive Health at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

The six bright and airy delivery rooms all have en-suite facilities, birthing pool and equipment to help the women feel more comfortable during birth like aroma stones, mats, pillows and birthing balls.  

Around 1,500 women a year, who are assessed as being unlikely to require medical interventions, are expected to have their babies in the more homely environment of the Birth Centre.

The number of babies born in Lothian rose significantly from 8,538 in 2004 to 9,915 in 2010. It is predicted that the numbers will continue to rise by 10 per cent over the coming years in line with Lothian’s growing population. The birth centre was created to give women extra choice about how and where they give birth.