52% of midwives say they feel they are dehydrated during their shift

on 10 August 2021

A survey by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has found that 52% of midwives feel dehydrated during their shifts.

The union is now calling on NHS Trusts and Boards to ensure water is accessible to midwives and other healthcare professionals.

Midwives, student midwives and maternity support workers have reported that Trusts and Boards do not allow them to have fluids with them on units, with some saying they are too busy to take a break to drink water. Some have reported at they often go without water during 11 or 12-hour shifts, with some saying they have gone off sick with urinary tract infections caused by the effects of dehydration.

Director for Professional Midwifery at the RCM, Dr Mary Ross-Davie, said: “Every maternity service in the country is under pressure, whether from long-term staff shortages, COVID-related absence or because more and more women are being admitted with COVID and require more intensive level of care. As a result, many midwives and maternity support workers are simply not able to take a break to take on fluids.

Some Trusts and Boards have banned water bottles in clinical areas, which means that our members are often going 12 hours with no break and no water. We are appealing to those services to apply common sense, to recognise that this application of infection control is misguided and to look after the health and wellbeing of their staff.”

The RCM has released guidance for midwives on staying hydrated while on shift, as well as debunking the myth that water bottles on maternity units is a cross infection risk. The guidance and more information can be found here.