The Royal College of Midwives has warned staff shortages have left pregnant women 'unsupported'
Pregnant women feel ‘unsupported’ by the NHS because they are forced to see separate midwives due to staff shortages instead of being able to build a relationship with one, according to a new report.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has warned four in 10 women see up to nine or 10 midwives during their pregnancy, leaving them unable to have confidence in one, as is recommended.
One fifth of women were found to have been left alone during labour, going against guidelines saying women should have one-to-one care.
According to experts, midwives have become overstretched due to the baby boom, as well as an increase in the number of women aged 40+ who are having babies and require extra care.
Midwife numbers have not kept up with the increase in the birth rate, and about 5,000 more are needed to meet one-to-one care in labour.
Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the RCM, said: ‘In antenatal care, the problem for women is they are not getting the continuity of care they need.
‘They might have nine or 10 antenatal visits in their pregnancy and very rarely see the same midwife twice so they cannot build confidence in the midwife looking after them.
‘In labour the majority of women are getting high quality care that is needed to be safe but one fifth of the women we surveyed said they did not get adequate support in labour. The wards are so busy that there are occasions when midwives are not able to give women the concentrated care they would like.’
Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: ‘It is because of the historical shortage in the number of midwives, that from day one, investing in maternity care has been a top priority for the Government.
‘Women already have choice and one-to-one maternity care, and we are working closely with the Royal College of Midwives to ensure that personalised, one to one maternity care is available for every woman across the country.’