MUMS-to-be arriving at the newly refurbished maternity centre at Poole hospital which opened its doors this week, might feel as if they are about to give birth in a spa rather than a delivery suite.

The midwife-led birthing unit at St Mary’s has been completely refurbished and relocated, with new en-suite facilities and antenatal ward layout All of the rooms in the Haven Suite are named after herbs and flowers and feature padded furnishings, touch-control lighting and temperature settings and the midwives have been trained in the art of aromatherapy.

Three out of the five delivery rooms also have state of the art birthing pools with access to a piped gas and air supply.

Helen Williams, deputy head of midwifery, said they wanted to create an environment that would encourage “a more active birth approach”.

“We are so lucky to have this mid-wife led facility which is the biggest in Dorset. In order to improve the natural birth rate, it is important to provide relaxed surroundings to help promote normal births”

Belinda Doe, matron at the Haven Suite, said: “It is fabulous – we were involved in the planning of the suite over the past two-year-long consultation process. We want mums to feel more at home.”

The suite is part of a £4m building programme at Poole Hospital’s maternity unit to help it cope with an expected 1,400 extra births a year. The redevelopment will provide 13 more maternity beds and three birthing pools.

A self-contained bereavement suite will have two en-suite rooms and a separate entrance and exit to give bereaved parents and their families greater privacy.

Improvements to the neonatal unit are due to be completed by the end of the month. For more information, contact Elizabeth Abbott, team leader for the Haven Suite on 01202 448509.