Midwife careAlmost half of births in England and Wales are to mothers aged 30 and over, according to figures released today by the Office for National Statistics.

Commenting on the statistics Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: "This demonstrates very starkly the changing demographics of childbirth. More older women are giving birth and this has an impact on maternity services. Older mothers tend to have more complications in their pregnancy and therefore often need additional care and attention from midwives and maternity services. This of course places additional pressure on time and resources.

"These figures feed into the wider pressures on maternity services. Other issues such as rising levels of obesity are also leading to births becoming more complex. In addition numbers of births are at an all time high. This means it is vital that the Government continues to tackle the shortage of midwives which the RCM estimates to be almost 5000 in England alone.

"Recent research has shown the benefits of midwife led continuity of care and older pregnant women are among the groups who will benefit greatly from this. Without enough midwives to deliver this care, these benefits will simply not happen."