Call The Midwife star Jessica Raine has joined a campaign calling for more midwives in England.
The actress, who plays the lead role in the hit BBC drama series, has signed the Royal College of Midwives’ (RCM) online petition for 5,000 more midwives.
The petition currently has just over 67,000 signatures and the RCM says it must reach 100,000 by August 22.
England and Arsenal footballer Theo Walcott and his mother, a retired midwife, have also joined the campaign.
Lynn Walcott said: “There are so many sacrifices that midwives make for their profession. I have signed and supported the RCM’s e-petition because we need 5,000 more midwives.
“We don’t need midwives who are bystanders with plastic gloves on. We need more midwives to empower women to help educate them to give back choices and options for women before, during and after childbirth and to teach mothers about breastfeeding and home birth.
“The advice I received from midwives about breastfeeding set Theo up for life. I want all mothers and babies, regardless of class and social and racial background, to receive this advice.”
In the last decade the number of births in the country has risen by more than 22% but over the same period the number of midwives has risen by less than 17%, an RCM spokeswoman said.
RCM general secretary and chief executive Cathy Warwick said: “We are touched and delighted that so many high-profile celebrities, actors, actresses and footballers are backing our campaign.
“Many women are not currently getting one-to-one midwifery care in labour or choice of place of birth. We also know many women do not always get the best care at the vital time after the birth of their baby, especially once they go home.
“The government know there is a problem and a dire shortage of midwives, and are committed to training more midwives, but what is needed are more midwifery jobs.
“It is pointless training more midwives if they cannot get employment. We believe that in order to deliver the high-quality maternity care for mothers and babies proposed by the Government, we need 5,000 more midwives.”