‘Type of birth affects time and day’

By Rob Dabrowski on 19 June 2018 Timing of Birth Maternity Services Research

A new study has found that the time and day that women give birth can vary significantly, depending on how labour starts and the mode of giving birth.

The national analysis includes over five million births over a 10-year period in England.
Researchers found that 28.5% of births that occurred within between 9am and 4.59pm on weekdays, while 71.5% of births occurred outside these hours at weekends, on public holidays or between 5pm and 8:59am on non-holiday week days.

Just over half of all births were spontaneous births following labours that started spontaneously. These were most likely to occur between 1am and 6.59am, with a peak around 4am, and a trough in the afternoon. They were slightly more likely to happen on weekdays than on other days.

Elective or pre-planned CS births accounted for 9.2% of births and were seen to occur mostly on weekdays between 9am and 11.59am, with a pronounced peak between 9am and 10:59am. Very few occurred between 5pm and 6.59am on weekday evenings and nights, and even fewer at any time at weekends and on holidays.
Sean O’Sullivan, RCM head of health and social policy, said: ‘This is useful research that will support maternity services to more effectively organise their staff and staffing rotas.
‘A note of caution though as these are national results and individual services will need to look at their own patterns of birth in order to manage services.
‘Birth is, however, very unpredictable and maternity services must be staffed to ensure that unexpected surges in demand can be managed to continue delivering safe and high quality care.’
He added: ‘It is also worth noting that this study focuses on birth, and the work of midwives and maternity support workers of course encompasses much more than just birth, including antennal and postnatal care and specialist work such as maternal mental health, bereavement care, infant feeding support and much, much more besides. Any planning of services must consider also these aspects of care.’
The study is by researchers from City, University of London in collaboration with University College London and the NCT.
To read the paper click here.