“Massive shortages” of midwives combined with the biggest baby boom in 40 years are pushing maternity services to a “tipping point” said a report.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) annual report shows that the number of babies born to women aged 40 or above jumped 80% in the last ten years in England, leading to increased complications or the need for medical intervention.
RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick said: “More midwives are being employed in England, and the number of places for midwives in training is on the rise, but some areas have seen more than a 50 per cent rise in births in only a few years.
“Maternity units are under intense strain and have been now for many years, with many midwives really at the end of their tether. We are reaching a crucial tipping point for maternity services in England.”
Corby, Northamptonshire saw the highest rise, as births rose by 63% between 2002 and 2011, three times the national average.
In 2011, more than 685,000 babies were born in England, the highest number since 1971.
The number of babies born to women over 40 is the highest since 1948, and the number of babies born to 30-34 year-olds was the highest on record, figures seem to show.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also show the trend of higher birth numbers and older mothers.
The RCM claims 5,000 more midwives are needed to deal with the steadily rising number of births.
Warwick said: “We desperately need new midwives to reinvigorate the profession.
“We need to train more midwives and make absolutely sure that those who qualify get jobs without delay.”