A REVOLUTIONARY birthing centre is celebrating a milestone with the birth of the facility’s 2000th baby.

The arrival of tiny Darrener Marcie Sophia Heap comes just over two years since the hotel-style Blackburn Birth Centre opened to remove the ‘hospital experience’ from straightforward births.

The Park Lee Road centre opened in 2010 providing a completely different approach to low-risk deliveries.

Light, luxurious and welcoming, £900,000 was spent to convert the former Woodlea mental health unit to offer more choice and stress-free pregnancies for mothers-to-be.

It is complemented by a similar centre in Burnley offering a low key and homelike environment at Burnley General Hospital’s £32million Lancashire Women and Newborn Centre, which handles all East Lancashire’s complex births.

Marcie’s parents, Darwen couple Cara and Stewart Heap said they were delighted to have had chosen the alternative and ‘intimate’ environment for the birth.

Their daughter was born at 3.44am weighing 7lb 12oz – arriving just in time for Christmas.

They had chosen the centre following recommendations from family.

Cara said: “We were initially nervous about giving birth in a stand-alone midwife unit but when we visited the centre, we were really impressed by how safe and secure it felt.

“The midwives were great and the whole birth experience was fantastic. It was a lovely, intimate place to give birth and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to friends and family.”

The Blackburn Birth Centre, which is based on a separate site from the Royal Blackburn Hospital in Park Lee Road, has four birth rooms and offers one-to-one care in labour on a 24 hour-a-day basis. It offers pre and post natal care and is an extremely popular option with a third of all Blackburn births taking place there.

Anita Fleming, head of midwifery at East Lanca-shire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We are thrilled that our Blackburn Birth Centre is proving so successful with so many babies being born there.

Delivering the 2000th baby is a fantastic achievement for all our midwives and staff. The centre offers women and their families a much more home-like birth environment and the feedback we receive from parents is overwhelmingly positive.”