Pregnant Women Should Be Told About Quality Of Maternity Services, States NHS Guidance

Mums-To-Be Should Be Told About Quality Of Maternity Services Before Giving Birth

Pregnant women should be given information on the quality of maternity services in their local area before giving birth, new NHS guidance states.

Mums-to-be should be told about the safety records of local labour wards, midwife units and home birth services, including information on how many babies have come to harm, the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) states.

According to The Telegraph, the new report states having this information will enable women to make an informed choice about where they want to give birth.

The guidance recommends pregnant women should be given detailed information on how many women under the maternity services care had caesareans, the chances of needing a ventouse or forceps, the risk of serious medical problems for the baby and how many women were transferred to a labour ward, having started giving birth at home or in a midwife-led service.

It also states women should give birth in a small midwife-led unit unless they have a high risk of complications.

Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives, welcomed the guidance, but cautioned that without an increase in staffing levels it will be difficult to make the changes.

She said: "We expect maternity services to take notice of and put [these standards] into practice. It is no good having these standards if they are not being implemented.

"We know that many women are unable to give birth where they choose, not because of medical issues, but simply because the resources, such as access to a midwifery unit or sufficient midwives, are not there to provide it. This is not good enough.

"We also know from maternity surveys that too many women are uncertain that their choice will be available when labour starts, or that they report being left alone in labour when they should be receiving one-to-one care from a midwife.

"Again, the cause is often related to staffing levels, and falls short of the quality of care that women should be receiving."

Silverton said England remains 2,600 midwives short of the numbers needed.

"This has got be tackled by the Government and employers," she continued.

"Without the resources, little will change, the quality of care will not improve and mothers, babies and their families will continue to be short-changed by the system.

"Ultimately we support women making decisions about where they want to labour and give birth, based on them having the best and most up to date information.

"Midwives and doctors are there to support and advise women and to help them make these decisions."

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