birthCare in the UK is overly fragmented and insufficiently individualised to cater for the needs of mothers who have English as a foreign language, according to consultant midwife Trixie McAree.

The normal birth consultant from North West London Hospitals NHS Trust (NWLHT) told delegates at JFHC Live 2013 that there is a clear need to enhance the level of continuity care offered in order to reduced c-section rates and trust among foreign-born mothers.

"People who are afraid don't labour well, and having to constantly change the midwife or health professional who are dealing with during your pregnancy breeds fear," McAree said.

With one in two of the 135,000 women who give birth in London every year coming from a non-UK background, the capital's 7,000 midwives are always likely to struggle according to McAree but continuity of care could improve many women's experience.

Reporting back on a grounded study conducted by NWLHT, McAree said: "Those with group practice midwives tended to prefer seeing them throughout their pregnancy.

"Equally many of the women who gave birth in hospital were critical of the care they received, saying they felt they were 'herded like sheep' and so preferred a community care approach. Also, somewhat surprisingly, there was a clear preference towards natural birth.

"We have never really adapted maternity services to reflect the increased levels of migration in the UK, and there remains much we need to learn about how to provide the best care for women living in ethnically diverse settings."

McAree concluded her talk by urging midwives to seek ways to provide continuity care, even if it wasn't the way their Trust normally operates.

For video and audio highlights of all the talks at JFHC Live visit our dedicated mini-site at

Posted 15/03/2013 by