January 21 – Corby, Bournemouth and Boston are among towns that have seen staggering increases in birth-rates this century, midwives warned today. Baby numbers in the towns have surged as England experiences its highest numbers of births in 40 years. Last year some 688,120 babies were born in England and the first six months of this year suggest even greater numbers, according to the Royal College of Midwives.
The increased numbers are linked to the age of motherhood rising. Since 2002 the number of mothers under the age of 20 has fallen by 18% – the lowest rate of teen birth since 1955. But there was an 80% increase in the number of mothers giving birth over the age of 40 – reaching 29,350.
Corby, Bournemouth, Boston have all seen increases of more than 50% in birth numbers in the last decade – as have Barking and Dagenham and Slough. Birth-rates seem to have stopped increasing in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The college warned that maternity services could reach a “tipping point” at which they could not cope.
Chief executive Cathy Warwick said: “England remains around 5,000 midwives short of the number required to provide mothers and babies with high-quality service they need and deserve. More midwives are being employed in England, and the number of places for midwives in training is on the rise. A corner is being turned, but this is no time for backsliding from the Government. Maternity units are under intense strain and have been now for many years, with many midwives really at the end of their tether in terms of what they can tolerate.”