Top midwife hails ‘extraordinary’ NHS staff who have delivered more than 50 million babies

England’s top midwife today praised the ‘extraordinary’ role of midwives who have delivered more than 50 million babies over the last seven decades and urged young people to consider the “uniquely rewarding” career.

In the run-up to the NHS’s 70th birthday, Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent urged midwives and parents to share their stories, showing support for the profession which touches the lives of many during one of their happiest and most moving experiences for families across the country.

An estimated 1801 babies and their families are expected to share their special day with the Royal family.

Babies born in the UK today could expect to live to well in to their eighties and one-in-three girls set to live past 100. That has risen from 66 for men and 71 for women when the NHS was founded in 1948 thanks, in large part, improvements in medical care.

The vast majority of women giving birth today will choose to give birth in a hospital or maternity unit. This marks a trend which has dramatically shifted over the last 60 years when one third of pregnant women chose to give birth at home.

The average age of mothers is now 30 up from 28 over the last twenty years.

Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, Head of Maternity, Children & Young People at NHS England, said: “The NHS was set up to deliver care from the cradle to the grave, and midwives are privileged to be part what is for most a special journey and precious moment in time.

“Midwifery is a uniquely rewarding profession and I’d like to thank the extraordinary people who have helped the NHS deliver an astonishing 50 million babies over the last 70 years.

“In the NHS today, women giving birth can expect to have a safer and more personalised maternity care experience, while the average baby born can expect to live into their eighties.”

For people starting a family in 2018, maternity services across England have never been safer. Today a record 88% of new mothers said that they were treated with dignity and respect throughout labour, according to the latest CQC survey.

Mums-to-be in England are increasingly offered more personalised care and choices with over 13,000 pregnant women trialling personalised maternity care budgets.

They will also have a midwife who they know available throughout their use of maternity services, care which they would not previously get on the NHS.

There has been significant progress in maternity care:

  • Improvements and action to cut stillbirths mean more than 600 children alive today compared to ten years ago.
  • Over the last 10 years the maternal death rate has nearly halved.