A DEDICATED team of midwives at the Royal Bolton Hospital has ensured mums-to-be - even in the grips of a pandemic - enjoy their big day no matter what.

Around 20 babies come into the world each day in the delivery suite at the Princess Anne Maternity Unit.

And it's up to Sarah Holt to co-ordinate the 12-strong unit, supported by a cleaning team, on an eleven-and-a-half hour shift.

“Working on the delivery suite is a bit of a juggling act” Sarah said.

“I have to think about the way each delivery is going, whether the patient will need theatre, what other help they will need and which midwives are available.

“If one delivery takes an unexpected turn it may mean I need to amend the plan for someone else.”

Sarah says midwives do not simply deliver babies. They are part counsellor, chemist and confidant, skilled negotiators and, ultimately, are experts in their field.

This has been no more apparent than during the coronavirus crisis, according to the team leader.

Coupled with the battery of observations necessary before any birth, staff have one eye, like colleagues across the hospital, on whether patients are up-to-date with their Covid tests.

Sarah added: "Covid has been really difficult. In the height of the pandemic we had to use a delivery suite in part for pregnant ladies with Covid, which really impacted on the space we had for delivery babies.”

But this was just one more challenge faced and overcome by the maternity unit team.

Support staff also feel part of the team, as Sarah and the midwives master bed and staffing pressures, the demands of theatre and Mother Nature's whims.

Hospital porter, Ben Hicks, as he wheeled a patient in from maternity down into the delivery suite, said: "I love working here. I used to be a lorry driver, but it was a lonely job.

"I now look forward to coming to work so much. I meet so many people and while, like in any job, there are some difficult parts, I absolutely love it.”

Hospital bosses are currently recruiting for maternity staff via their website.