Dwindling NHS Staff Has Pregnant Women Turning To Midwife 'Live Chats' For Support

The service offers advice for pregnant women, but more needs to be done to bolster the midwifery industry.
Renata Angerami via Getty Images

Midwife numbers in the UK have been dwindling for a while. In 2022, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) announced that midwife numbers had dropped by 600 in the year since the then-Health Minister admitted England was already 2000 midwives short.

The same year, maternal health brand Lansinoh launched their live midwife chat service, which aimed to link pregnant women up to live chats with dedicated midwives who could offer much-needed advice and support, hoping to bridge the gap between delays in NHS staff getting back to pregnant or post-partum women.

The chat service – either text or video call – is available Monday to Friday, between 9-5, and the key features include:

  • Qualified midwives who are insured and regulated by the relevant governing bodies in the UK.
  • Advice on pregnancy, birth and/or breastfeeding, up to two years post-partum
  • Private and confidential chats

Jo Parkington, lead midwife for Lansinoh says patient demands are being met by in-house midwives: “The Royal College of Midwives estimates that the UK needs 3,000 more midwives just to meet the needs of pregnant women today.

“The WHO (World Health Organisation) estimates that there is a global shortage of midwives of up to 900,000. So, we had to think outside of the box to ensure that women can have access to midwifery knowledge and support in a globally challenging situation,” she explains.

Parkington believes it’s important that people have access to the right people at the right time: “We’re helping women in need, but also assisting the NHS during this time of crisis”, she says.

In terms of how real-life, pregnant women feel about the service, one user shared: “The lady I spoke with was super supportive and helpful.

“Sometimes things crop up and I worry it might be a silly question, and don’t have the courage to call my health visitors or GP, so it was great to be able to have an informal chat with someone to put my mind at ease,” she says.

So, when can we expect more trained midwives to join the NHS? A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman told The Independent in August 2022, “We are aiming to hire 1,200 more midwives and 100 consultant obstetricians with a £95 million recruitment drive, on top of a £127 million NHS investment in maternity services over the next year to help increase the maternity NHS workforce and improve neonatal care.”

In the meantime, chat services like these can provide new and expecting mothers a place to get qualified advice and chats for any questions they might have.