The Royal College of Midwives has said today that the 20,000 extra babies expected this year, the biggest baby boom in 40 years, will put the NHS under “enormous” strain.
More than 700,000 births are expected in England this year, the highest level since 1971, according to The Telegraph.
Birth rates have been rising over the past decade, mainly due to immigration, with 12,000 more babies born annually.
Professor Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, warned that NHS maternity services in England are on a “knife-edge”.
“The baby boom is restarting with renewed vigour”, Cathy said. “Today’s midwives simply have never seen anything like it… I really believe we are at the limit of what maternity services can safely deliver.”
The RCM has said 5,000 extra midwives are needed to cope with the rising number of births. A lack of midwives has been cited as one of the reasons for the high number of caesareans in the UK, with mothers opt for surgery having suffered a traumatic first birth.
Meanwhile, the Government has pledged £25million to helping families in a scheme aimed at improving patient care by extending an advice service for parents and faster diagnosis of post-natal depression.
Other initiatives include allowing fathers-to-be to join their labouring partners in hospital birthing pools and offering double beds in materity wards so that new fathers can spend the night with new mums and their babies.
Health minister Dr Dan Poulter said the plan was to help build a strong bond between both parents and their baby, and ensure mothers did not feel isolated.
The overall aim of the scheme is to keep families together and give them more support at times of stress.