Number of babies born in Bristol has increased by 50% in 10 years
THE number of babies being born in Bristol has risen by almost a half in a decade.
Figures show that between 2001/02 and 2011/12 the number of babies born in the city rose from about 4,600 to 6,800 – an increase of 48 per cent.
The data makes Bristol one of the hotspots that have seen a significant spike in births in the last decade, as highlighted by The Royal College of Midwives, which fears the baby boom could be putting too much pressure on maternity units.
The number of women born outside of the UK who have had babies in Bristol has been suggested as one of the reasons for the rise in births in the city.
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According to data in Bristol's Joint Strategic Needs Assessment – which is used by the council and health trusts to plan care in the city – 27 per cent of births in the city in 2010 were to mothers born outside of the UK, compared to 13 per cent in 2001. It said the proportion of births to women who were not born in the UK is rising faster than those born here.
Other areas have not seen the same increase in births as Bristol.
In 2011, while there were 6,718 births in the city, there were 3,117 to mothers living in South Gloucestershire, 2,331 in North Somerset and 1,820 in Bath & North East Somerset.
While the number of births has been going up in the city, people have been tending to live longer, causing the population to grow at twice the national rate.
At St Michael's Hospital the number of births has risen from 4,547 in 2002/3 to 5,857 in 2011/12.
Sarah Windfeld, head of midwifery, said the trust recruited additional midwives in 2009 and is in the process of recruiting further midwives, as well as developing new roles to support midwives in the community.
"We have also employed nurses to provide care to maternity patients and take on the tasks that do not require a midwife, eg working in theatre, and this frees up time for qualified midwives to care for women in labour", she said.
A new midwife-led unit is due to open at the hospital in May.
Deputy director of midwifery at North Bristol NHS Trust, Lisa Marshall, suggested that people moving to the area had had an impact on the number of births.
"We have a dedicated team of staff who are committed to providing women with the very best care," she said. "Aside from the central delivery suite at Southmead, we are able to offer women a good choice in terms of where and how they give birth. The birth suite at Southmead remains popular and numbers of home births have been steadily rising."
She added that the opening of the Cossham Hospital midwife-led birth centre next week would also improve options for women.