With the Duchess of Cambridge now in her final trimester, the UK is anticipating the arrival of a new future monarch this July. There has never been a better time to give birth. Really, I'm not just offering that as a platitude, the customs and advice relating to pregnancy and birth in the past make for horrific reading. Of course, the lack of hygiene and gynaecological understanding caused untold suffering but setting mortality rates aside, midwives and the fashionable male accouchers of the past had some strange ideas about what was best for their patients.
The rise is being put down to women taking the pill and having children later, though there are likely to be other factors contributing as well. Organisations are stressing for women not to worry about these figures, and for them just to keep checking their breasts for any differences in feel, size and pain. However it is not necessarily those things that will cause the most worry. instead, it is likely to be a bigger worry to younger people again.
The 5th of May is International Day of the Midwife and the UK should be supporting midwives and other maternity professionals more so now than ever before. Why? Because there is currently a baby boom, a shortage of 5,000 midwives and the UK has one of the worst stillbirth rates in the developed world according to the 2011 Lancet report.
As we all inevitably leave our twenties and begrudgingly begin the slow pitiful march towards responsibility and self-loathing, it's important to ask the question - what next? For some it's fulfilling careers and the exciting discovery of our greatly unrecognised adult self, and for some it's children.
Childcare is more likely to be divided more equitably between parents too. Many of our mums commented that their partners are more involved than their dads were when they were growing up - and others noted that the shift towards greater sharing of the baby care workload is inevitable, given that most mums (as dads) are juggling parenthood with a career.