MIDWIVES in Gwent are bracing themselves for a bumper batch of babies in 2021 due to the coronavirus lockdown.

In a normal year, the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABUHB) would expect 6,000 births - but, along with other UK hospitals and health boards, it’s anticipating a marked increase over the coming months.

“A likely cause of a national increase in bookings could be due to couples having lots of time at home together,” said consultant midwife Emma Mills.

South Wales Argus:

The Breech Birth Team Midwife Charley Meates, Consultant Midwife Emma Mills and Research Midwife Tracy James

The surge in pregnancies will be coming hot on the heels of an intense few months, during which midwives and support staff have had to implement additional measures both to protect mums and their babies from coronavirus, and to help women with the infection give birth safely.

“Our teams have had to cope with delivering babies while wearing full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and be compassionate with families upset by the restrictions on visiting,” Ms Mills said.

“All in all it’s been challenging. Supporting birth is something that cannot be put off for six months, but the women and their babies are doing ok.”

While restrictions on visiting have been tough on families, Ms Mills and her team have witnessed many positive outcomes created by the women affected, not least the close friendships that have developed among some new mums supporting each other in hospital.

“It’s been a hard time for men and families expecting babies with the restrictions we’ve had to put in place to protect mums and babies and staff against Covid-19,” she explains.

The high regard felt by families for the midwives at ABUHB was much in evidence at last year’s South Wales Argus Health & Care Awards, when individuals and teams received no fewer than three awards.


The Breech Birth Project Team scooped the ‘Together we Achieve’ accolade while Louise Taylor was named ‘midwife of the year’ and Emma Mills won in the ‘Research Impact’ category with her work on Female Genital Mutilation. Integrated Midwife Katy Jones was a finalist in the midwife category.

Breech births, the term applied for babies who aren’t in the ‘head first’ position as they get closer to their expected delivery date, affects some three to four per cent of pregnancies at 37 weeks, although around 30 per cent go on to turn around naturally. Midwifery teams at ABUHB have been working to ensure women in this situation are empowered to make informed choices about how they want to give birth.

Emma’s focus on FGM is particularly apt given the diverse population using the maternity services provided by ABUHB.

“It can be quite radical and aggressive and have massive implications for birth,” explains Emma, whose research has taken her to Poland and Toronto. “I want to encourage a greater understanding of it and ensure there’s sufficient training to better support the women this affects.”

Emma says recognition for South East Wales’ midwives from the South Wales Argus Health & Care Awards in 2019 was touching for her teams and reinforced the value of their work for women.

“What we do is all about women feeling safe and having choices,” she explains.

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