Births in midwifery units in England have trebled over the last six years, a new study by researchers at The University of Nottingham has shown.
Births were up from 5% to 14%, according to the research, led by a team of academics in the university’s school of health sciences.
It reveals that the number of midwifery units alongside obstetric units almost doubled from 53 to 97 during the period 2010 to 2016.
However, despite this increase, 25% of all NHS trusts in England still have no midwifery units.
Denis Walsh, associate professor of midwifery, who led the study, said: ‘Midwifery units are better for mothers, safe for babies and cheaper for the NHS.’
The new study charts the change in birth trend since a 2010 survey, which was carried out by Oxford University as part of the Birthplace in England programme.
The increase in provision of midwifery unit care is a response to a national policy in place since 2007, that all women should be able to choose their place of birth.
A woman’s right to book into a midwifery unit for their care has been reinforced by the Government’s Five Year Forward View for maternity, and recommendations by NICE.
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, said the research was ‘very valuable’.
‘It is very encouraging that more women are making the choice to give birth in this type of midwife-led unit. It suggests that when women have real choice about where they want to give birth, that midwife-led care is a choice they want to make,’ she said.