Smoking and obesity highlighted in Welsh maternity report

By Julie Griffiths on 06 November 2018 Report Maternity Services Smoking Obesity State of Maternity Services Report

The RCM’s Welsh State of Maternity services report 2018 reveals concerns around the rates of obesity and smoking during pregnancy among women in Wales. 

Figures quoted in the report reveal that one in four pregnant women in Wales are obese and one in five are recorded as smokers.

RCM director for Wales Helen Rogers said that the rates are a ‘real worry’. 

‘We know obesity and smoking can have an impact on stillbirth rates and women who are overweight do require extra support throughout their pregnancy. As with older mothers, levels of smoking and obesity add to the complexity of the workload faced by midwives and the entire maternity team as these women do require additional care and support during their pregnancies,’ Helen said.

Helen added that the national trend for women becoming mothers later in life was reflected in Wales also, which does ‘add to the mix of complexity with which maternity services must cope’.

She warned that an ageing of the profile of women accessing maternity care does therefore increase the number of midwives needed by the NHS in Wales.

Launched today (6 November), the annual report also identifies Brexit as a potential threat to the midwifery workforce in Wales.

Helen said that the impact of Brexit may not be an obvious concern, but with the loss of more than a thousand EU midwives in England there is some risk of the NHS in England ‘poaching midwives from our maternity services here in Wales’.
‘Wales has been doing well compared to England is terms of future proofing our maternity services, but we must continue to stay ahead of the curve to ensure we will not face the same challenges that England currently has, such as the chronic shortage of midwives,’ she said.
The announcement by the Welsh Government of increasing student midwife numbers in 2017-18 should help towards offsetting the large numbers of midwives due to retire in the coming years in Wales. 

Helen said that the RCM would like to see this increase maintained over the coming years to ensure Welsh maternity services have the number of midwives needed to deliver safe, high quality care for women, babies and their families.

Access the full report here.