NHS midwives ready for the busiest day for births

Midwives, nurses and doctors in maternity and birthing units are ‘always standing ready’, as the country sees the annual peak in births today.

Thanks to a spike in conceptions over the Christmas holidays, around 2,000 babies are born on 26 September in England and Wales – more than any other day of the year – according to the Office for National Statistics.

This is more than 10% higher than the average of 1,800 a day – more than one every minute – with over 600,000 births across the country annually.

Health bosses are rolling out a package of measures through the NHS Long Term Plan, to make giving birth even safer and more comfortable for new families, supported by a drive to boost the care workforce.

Recent progress has seen more than 3,000 extra community midwives working in NHS hospitals in the past ten years, supporting ongoing efforts to give half of women ‘continuity of carer’ within the next 18 months.

Alongside improved physical health support, new mums are increasingly being offered more convenient, expert mental health therapy, with an additional 30,000 women accessing specialist help within the next two years.

Jacqueline Dunkley Bent, chief midwifery officer for England said: “Women who are pregnant or in labour – and their partners – rightly want more say over their care and more information about how things are going during pregnancy, and that’s what we are delivering through the NHS Long Term Plan.

“As a midwife and nurse I know that even in the busiest periods, NHS staff are always standing ready to go above and beyond for new and expectant mums.”

As part of NHS Long Term Plan measures, thousands of mums-to-be will be offered an inexpensive drug – magnesium sulphate – that dramatically cuts the chances of premature babies developing a disability.

Increasing use of the drug is part of a package of measures now being rolled out across the country to build on progress that has seen the number of stillbirths fall by a fifth since 2015.

Many more women will have a dedicated midwife throughout pregnancy, while services that help pregnant women stop smoking are being enhanced as part of the NHS Long Term Plan, with ‘quit advice’ being offered during pregnancy across England.

An extra £40million this year will be used by local areas to support action to reduce the rates of stillbirth, neonatal death, maternal death and brain injury during birth by 20% by the end of 2020/21, and 50% by 2025, including enhanced training for midwives.