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Table 1 Terms used to describe birth settings (adapted from Rowe et al., [51])

From: Birthplace choices: what are the information needs of women when choosing where to give birth in England? A qualitative study using online and face to face focus groups

Obstetric unit (OU) (also called a ‘labour ward’ or ‘delivery suite’) NHS maternity unit in which care is provided by a team, with obstetricians taking primary professional responsibility for women at higher risk of complications during labour and birth. Midwives care for all women in an OU and take primary responsibility for ‘low risk’ women. Diagnostic and treatment medical services including obstetric, neonatal and anaesthetic care are available on site, 24 h a day.
Alongside midwifery unit (AMU) NHS maternity unit for ‘low risk’ women in which midwives take primary professional responsibility for care. Diagnostic and treatment medical services, including obstetric, neonatal and anaesthetic care are available, should they be needed, in the same building, or in a separate building on the same site. Transfer will normally be by trolley, bed or wheelchair.
Admission to an AMU may be based on an ‘opt-in’ policy whereby ‘low risk’ women choose to plan birth in the AMU, or ‘opt-out’ whereby the AMU is the default option for ‘low risk’ women.
Freestanding midwifery unit (FMU) NHS maternity unit for ‘low risk’ women in which midwives take primary professional responsibility for care. General Practitioners may also be involved in care. Diagnostic and treatment medical services, including obstetric, neonatal and anaesthetic care, are not immediately available but are located on a separate site should they be needed. Transfer will normally be by car or ambulance.
Home birth Planned birth in the woman’s own home, where care is provided by an NHS or independent midwife. If diagnostic and treatment medical services are required, transfer will normally be by car or ambulance.