More nurses and midwives than ever are now employed at midwife-led units throughout the UK, as a new report reveals the number of these facilities has quadrupled in the country in the past ten years.
The National Organisational Report 2017 published by the National Maternity and Perinatal Audit shows that women currently have more choice than ever before when it comes to giving birth, with one-fifth of NHS Trusts now offering the full range of options available.
Not only does this mean women can have more control over their birth plans, but also that there is more diversity across maternity nursing and midwifery positions, with these healthcare professionals able to choose the type of unit or ward that suits them best.
Community nursing and midwifery is also a part of this, with three-quarters of NHS Trusts now giving women the option of giving birth at home or in a midwife-led unit. The majority of these units are attached to existing obstetric departments, which means other specialist healthcare staff are within easy reach in case of an unforeseen emergency.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) welcomed these findings, particularly the fact that the significant increase in midwife-led units means expectant mothers can receive one-to-one care.
However, Mandy Forester, head of quality and standards at the RCM, said the college wants this to be the case for all women in the future.
"It is worrying that so few women are seeing the same midwife or group of midwives. Continuity of carer is crucial to ensuring safe, high-quality care," she continued.
"Another concern is that so many women cannot get access to their electronic pregnancy records; this disempowers women and needs urgent attention."
This therefore indicates that more specialist nurses and midwives will be needed in the near future to staff these units, so that even more women can be provided with one-to-one care during the final days of their pregnancy and in their first few days post-birth.
Written by James Puckle
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