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Survey finds long way to go on government's midwifery pledges

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Almost a third of expectant mothers are not seeing the same midwife throughout their pregnancy and a fifth are not being offered a choice of where to give birth, a new survey has revealed.

In May the government pledged that in future all women should have one midwife who oversees their care before, during and after pregnancy and all expectant parents would be offered a choice of where to have their baby.

The survey found that 32% of the expectant mothers had not seen the same midwife in their pregnancy so far compared with 40% of those who had already given birth, suggesting an improvement. However, the results varied across the country and in London 60% of women reported they had not always seen the same midwife.

The Royal College of Midwives, which carried out the survey of 1,828 new mothers in conjunction with Bounty Parenting Club, said the results showed there was still a long way to go to meet these pledges.  

The vast majority of women said they felt supported by the NHS during birth and pregnancy, but 45% would have liked more time with their midwife and a third said they would have liked more support after the baby was born.

RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick said: “The government says it is committed to providing better maternity care and we endorse the pledges they have made. However, actions speak louder than words and this survey shows that there are many challenges ahead to ensure their promises are delivered across England.

“It throws up many areas of concern and highlights the pressing need for sustained investment in maternity services and in midwives.”

The survey also found only 42% of women were offered a choice of giving birth at home and 35% the option of a midwife led birthing unit.

Of the 20% who were not offered a choice at all, 15% said this was because of a lack of local facilities or midwives while 55% said it was due to medical reasons.

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