An increasing number of midwives are needed in the UK to help deal with a rise in births.
New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 2,903 more babies were born in England and Wales in 2015 compared to 2014, but the number of midwives has not increased at the same time.
This has raised concerns that women may not necessarily be receiving the best possible standard of care due to staff shortages, meaning locum midwives could find themselves in higher demand over the coming months.
Jacque Gerrard, director for England at the RCM, commented: "These latest statistics show that the baby boom is continuing, but unfortunately, the number of midwives is not keeping pace with the growing birth rate.
"We are now short 3,500 midwives in England. Our midwives continually tell us of the pressures they face daily in delivering the care they want to and we know this is compromised due to chronic understaffing."
A total of 697,852 babies were born in the UK during 2015, with an increased number born to mothers aged 40 and above. The ONS data shows that women over 40 gave birth to more children than females aged 20 and under for the first time in almost 70 years in 2015, with older mothers typically requiring more care during pregnancy, creating even more demand for additional midwives.
The average age to become a mother stood at 30.3 years in 2015, with this figure having increased steadily since the 1970s.
Overall, 15.2 babies in every 1,000 born last year were born to women aged 40 and over, while 14.5 in every 1,000 were to females in their teens. If this trend continues over the coming years, more opportunities could be created for midwives to help the health service to cope with rising demand for their services.
What's more, figures showed that an increasing number of babies were born in British hospitals to women born outside the UK during 2015, with these deliveries accounting for over one-quarter (27.5 per cent) of births.
Written by James Puckle
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