According to the State of Maternity Services Report 2015, the number of older women giving birth is causing pressure on midwifery services, which could be facing a ‘retirement time bomb’.
The report is expected to be presented in parliament on Tuesday 27 October 2015.
The number of babies being born to women in their thirties and forties, in England and Wales, was up by 6,589 in 2014.
Births to women in their early thirties (30-34) have been above 200,000 since 2010, with births to women in their late thirties (35-39) being over 110,000 every year since 2010.
For women in their forties, the birth rate has been above 29,000 for fours year in a row. This rate has not been seen since the years after the Second World War.
In England, 661,496 babies were born in 2014, which is 100,000 higher than in 2001.
In reflection of this figure, the RCM has highlighted in the report that the NHS is short of around 2,600 midwives.
In Wales, there has been more than 1,100 births to women 40 or over every year since 2010, marking the highest levels since the Sixties.
Commenting on the report, Chief Executive Cathy Warwick said: “All women deserve the very best care, regardless of the age at which they give birth. Women have every right to give birth later in life, and we support that. But typically older women will require more care during pregnancy, and that means more midwives are needed.”
“It is deeply frustrating for midwives that they cannot provide the quality of maternity care that they want to deliver because they are so short-staffed. It would be far better if midwives could spend more time helping pregnant women to quit smoking and helping new mums to breastfeed, if they choose to do so.
Too few midwives also means less time with women, with rushed midwives potentially missing signs of postnatal depression, for example.”
To read the full State of Maternity Services Report 2015, visit the Royal College of Midwives website.
Chief Executive of the RCM, Cathy Warwick, appeared on ITV’s Good Morning Britain this morning to talk about the findings and the shortage of midwives.
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