There were more than 10,000 extra births last year, leading to fears an already overstretched midwifery workforce will be put under more pressure.
According a report from NHS Digital, there were 648,107 deliveries in NHS hospitals during 2015-16, an increase of 1.8% from 2014-15. ‘Unfortunately England remains 3500 midwives short and if we are to provide the highest level of maternity care we must have enough midwives in place to deliver the best and safest possible care for all women,’ said Louise Silverton, RCM director for midwifery.
The report also found that births to mothers aged less than 20 have dropped by over 50% over the last 10 years, while births to mothers over 40 increased by 12.7% in the same period. ‘Births to older mothers are increasing and there are many reasons why women become pregnant later in life,’ added Ms Silverton. ‘Often older women who become pregnant may require more care throughout their pregnancy.’
The RCM has said that while the reduction in teenage pregnancy was welcome, rates in deprived areas were still unacceptably high. ‘It is also important that women are made aware of the increased potential for pregnancy complications as a result of age and in some cases assisted conception,’ concluded Ms Silverton. ‘They can then make informed decisions with their partners about when to have a baby.’