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British maternity services at 'crucial tipping point'

The Royal College of Midwives warns of a massive shortage of midwives in the UK. Credit: PA

A baby boom has pushed British maternity services to a "crucial tipping point", according to the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).

The trade union said that in some areas the number of births has risen by 50%, leading to a massive shortage of midwives. It said that the midwives who are working are under intense strain and hospitals are struggling to cope.

In a report to be published in parliament on Tuesday, the RCM warned an extra 5,000 midwives are needed in England alone to deal with the highest birth rate in 40 years.

It is calling on the Government to provide a guarantee not to cut midwife training places.

Report reveals antenatal depression affects relationship with baby

Half of the 260 women surveyed in the The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and Netmums study revealed that antenatal depression affected their relationship with their baby.

This survey shows that there is an urgent need to identify and help women with depression in pregnancy and after the birth of their baby. If we can identify women as early as possible then we could prevent them declining into much more serious mental health problems.

The Government has made a promise to women that they will be offered better support postnatally and that more will be done to spot and support postnatal depression. However, we know that antenatal and postnatal services are suffering as a result of budget cuts and a shortage of midwives.

This is in addition to the postcode lottery of service provision for women with postnatal depression. If this situation is not rectified, the NHS will continue to fail women with mental health problems during pregnancy or birth and the Government's pledge would be judged to be an empty promise.

– Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM