A quarter of women say they did not have a midwife with them in labour or when they needed them, according to a new survey from the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and Bounty.

The survey of over 1600 women who had recently had a baby also showed that over a quarter (27%) also felt that their midwives were not able to give them all the time that they needed to understand what was happening.

Choice of place of birth remains an issue with over a fifth (21%) of respondents saying they were not offered a choice of place of birth, such as in hospital, in a midwife-led unit or at home.

Women were also asked how well they knew their midwife at different stages of the pregnancy, and the responses also highlighted worrying problems. Over a fifth (22%), said they did not know their midwife 'very well' or 'not at all well' during the pregnancy.

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: "There are a lot of positives in this survey and many women are getting the highest quality of care. However the responses show that there is still a lot to do to ensure all women get an excellent service.

"One of the biggest challenges is to ensure women know their midwife well. If women have a named midwife they trust and can contact readily their satisfaction with services in general tends to be higher."

"We need to look below the surface of these results and find out why for example so many women still give birth in hospital when many say they had a choice? We are nearly two decades on from the ground-breaking report 'Changing Childbirth' which said all women should get a choice of place of birth. This is still, today, not happening.

"The key to this is to increase the number of midwives and I repeat our call for 5000 more midwives in the NHS.I would urge anyone who cares about our maternity services to sign the RCM's petition calling for more midwives."

The RCM petition is already of the most popular e-petitions on the Government's system and if it receives 100,000 signatures before 22nd August, it will be eligible for a full debate and vote on the issue on the floor of the House of Commons. To help them reach their goal you can sign the petition at: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/13716

Posted by Penny Hosie