An extra 3,500 midwives are needed in the UK in order to cope with the increasing number of births taking place in the country each year.
The digital Hospital Maternity Activity Report from the NHS reveals that some 648,107 births took place at hospitals in Britain over the past 12 months, marking an increase of 1.8 per cent for the last year.
In addition, the number of women either requiring or opting for a caesarean section has risen from 24.1 per cent in the 2014-15 period to 27.1 per cent in 2015-16, creating extra demand for midwives to assist with these procedures.
At the same time, however, the proportion of women going into labour spontaneously has dropped notably over the last decade, falling from 64.4 per cent to 59.6 per cent, indicating that the care nurses and midwives are providing to expectant mothers is improving, helping to prevent potentially dangerous early deliveries.
Meanwhile, there has been a significant rise in the number of older women giving birth, but a decline in teenage pregnancies has also been recorded, suggesting that the nature of the cases midwives are required to help with is undergoing a slight shift.
For example, older mothers are often subject to more vigilant monitoring while pregnant, meaning more midwives are needed to assist with these appointments, as well as with the potentially more complex deliveries that these patients may have due to their age.
Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, commented: "It is important that women are made aware of the increased potential for pregnancy complications as a result of age, and in some cases assisted conception. They can then make informed decisions with their partners about when to have a baby."
"England remains 3,500 midwives short and if we are to provide the highest level of maternity care, we must have enough midwives in place."
Written by James Puckle
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