More women delay motherhood, says report
Many women in Britain are choosing motherhood much later in life than in the past, according to a new report by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).
The State of Maternity Services report for this year shows that between 2010 and 2011, the number of women aged 40 and over giving birth increased by 71 per cent in England and Wales.
Last year the number of over-40 women who gave birth stood at its highest level since 1948. Meanwhile, the number of births to women aged under 20 dropped to the lowest it’s been since 1956.
This trend, combined with an overall surge in the number of babies born in the UK, is putting pressure on maternity services, according to the RCM.
In England alone, birth rates have increased by 22 per cent in the last decade.
The RCM calls for more midwives so that demands can be met and women can be given the care they need when they give birth.
The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) supports the RCM in this regard, said the charity’s chief executive Belinda Philips. “Expanded homebirth and midwife-led unit services would take the pressure off over-stretched hospital staffs and reduce the level of interventions for healthy women,” she commented.
Among the problems older women may experience during childbirth are prolonged labour, the need for assisted delivery and other complications, although the NHS notes “the actual size of the risk may be small”.
It also says on the NHS website that while there may be issues with conceiving and delivering a child later in life, there are numerous factors that determine when someone becomes a mum, including “several complex personal, social, professional and life circumstances”.
“Many women who become pregnant in their late 30s and early 40s have perfectly healthy pregnancies and babies,” it adds.
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