Midwife care ‘reduces risk of giving birth prematurely’

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Pregnant women looked after by midwives are less likely to give birth prematurely than when their care is split between obstetricians and GPs, according to research by a Sheffield academic.

Hora Soltani, professor of maternal and infant health at Sheffield Hallam University, found women were less likely to give birth before 37 weeks or suffer a miscarriage before 24 weeks.

The study also discovered that pregnant women required ‘fewer interventions’ during labour and birth when cared for by midwives.

The publication of the study follows concerns raised by the Royal College of Midwives, which says a chronic shortage of midwives will last until 2026, despite Government pledges to improve maternity care amid a continuing baby boom.

Prof Soltani collaborated with academics from Warwick University and the National University of Ireland Galway, as well as King’s College London, which led the study.

They reviewed data from 13 trials involving a total of 16,242 women.

Prof Soltani said: “It’s important to stress that this research is not a comparison between a midwife and a doctor, it’s about trying to raise awareness among women that they can have confidence in their own abilities to have a normal birth with the help of midwives.

“The perception is that in order to get the highest quality of care, they must be cared for by a senior clinician, and that is simply not the case.”