No midwife present for 1-in-4 women at crucial moment of giving birth
21:31 GMT, 12 May 2012
Pregnancy: Research shows that as many as a quarter of pregnant women claim they did not have a midwife present during crucial parts of the birth
One in four women do not have a midwife present during the crucial moments of giving birth, according to a new study.
The research, for the Royal College of Midwives, reveals that women across the country are being let down by under-staffed maternity services.
On average, a quarter of women said they did not have a midwife with them when they felt they needed one most.
The problem varies across Britain and is worst in London, where 31 per cent of women said their midwives were not in the room when there was a problem.
In the North West of England, where there is also considerable pressure on maternity units, 27 per cent found themselves alone at important points.
This compares with just 13 per cent in Northern Ireland and 16 per cent in Scotland.
It comes even though successive governments have promised that all women giving birth must have one-to-one care.
The study, carried out by parenting support club Bounty, did not clarify when in particular women needed the support of a midwife.
But Cathy Warwick, of the Royal College of Midwives, said: ‘It varies depending on the individual.
Research: The study suggests that the lack of support is down to understaffed maternity services
'Those in early labour want support, especially first-time mothers. For others, it’s when labour is at its most onerous near the end.
‘It is worrying that there are a significant number of women who feel they are not supported.
‘The key to solving this problem is to increase the number of midwives – we need 5,000 more in the NHS.’
During the survey of more than 1,600 women, mothers were also asked how well they knew their midwife during the pregnancy, with 21 per cent responding that they did not know them well.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: ‘Improving maternity care is a priority for the NHS.’