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Thursday, 9 December, 1999, 13:09 GMT
Midwife shortage threat to mothers
midwife
Parents need midwives' support
A chronic shortage of midwives is leaving mothers and babies without the vital support they need shortly after birth, says the NSPCC.

A conference of the children's charity and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) was told on Thursday that staffing shortfalls in the health service are causing problems for parents who find it difficult to cope.

A lack of midwives and other health carers means parents who need additional help to deal with their babies are not getting it.

Traditionally, midwives visit new mothers after birth to offer information and advice and check on the well-being of parents and babies.

Cinderella service

Carol Bates, Educational Development co-ordinator for the RCM, said: "Post natal care has become a Cinderella service. Because of the shortage of midwives we cannot give new parents the support they need in the early days of parenthood."

The RCM recommends that midwives care for no more than 35 women a year, but one in four women are left alone during labour because of shortages.


Because of the shortage of midwives we cannot give new parents the support they need in the early days of parenthood

Carol Bates, Royal College of Midwives
It is thought that 1,000 additional midwives are needed in the UK, where there are currently 32,000 registered midwives.

A spokesman for the NSPCC said: "Many women are finding post natal support is inadequate - whether due to lack of resources or the shocking shortage of midwives.

"Women who have just given birth can end up feeling abandoned and vulnerable. This can lead to post natal depression or difficulties forming close and loving relationships with their babies.

"Parents need help to understand babies' behaviour so they can develop coping strategies to avoid situations where the baby might be at risk or be harmed.

"Those professionals providing post natal care are ideally placed to help address these issues."

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30 Jul 99 | Health
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