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Birth: The Midwife's Role in the Hospital
Birth: What is a midwife for?
Birth: Giving Birth, a Natural Act
Birth: Being a Midwife
Birth: A profession in crisis?

"Being a hospital midwife, " explains one of our midwives, "can sometimes be a bit like working in a baby factory." With some hospitals recording more than 6000 births a year, midwives sadly don't have a lot of time to devote to each woman. However, she will be able to answer new mums' questions on both the baby's health and their own and also give helpful advice on motherhood topics ranging from the baby blues to breastfeeding. In practise, midwives have to juggle their different roles every day ans the figures speak for themselves: the UK is facing a midwifery crisis, with falling numbers of qualified midwifes and a serious shortage in some areas. The result is huge pressure on the remaining midwives, which means that very few women giving birth on the NHS will have the benefit of a midwife's sole attention throughout. To combat the problem, the government has pledged to recruit 10 000 more midwives by 2010.
Despite the shortage, you will have regular antenatal appointments with your midwife and there will always be one on duty at the hospital or antenatal clinic for you to contact in an emergency throughout your pregnancy. Your midwife is your main contact during pregnancy and a valuable source of information on tests and their accuracy and can guide you through the choices you are faced with, she will also explain your birthing options to you and help you to prepare your birth plan. With the arrival of new technology, they have had to learn a wide range of new skills to the detriment, some believe, of psychological support. You may not realise it, but many midwives are qualified to administer local anaesthetics when a doctor gives an epidural, for instance, but medical interventions like forceps or ventouse deliveries must be left to the doctors, usually obstetricians, as they carry an element of risk.

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