The Midwifery Unit Network releases its position statement with recommendations on how midwifery units can make a positive contribution to NHS maternity services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working in partnership with City, University of London, the Midwifery Unit Network (MUNet) supports and promotes the development and growth of midwifery units (birth centres), primarily across Europe, but also further afield. Its vision is to improve women’s and children’s health by ensuring that midwifery units become mainstream rather than an alternative within maternity service settings.
Published on Tuesday 31st March 2020, the network’s new position statement sets out how midwifery units can make a positive contribution when NHS maternity services are stretched to the limit by the effects of the ongoing crisis caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
Commenting on the position statement, Dr Lucia Rocca Ihenacho, who leads the Midwifery Unit Network, said:
"The Midwifery Unit Network is concerned about the care options available for women with uncomplicated pregnancies or those who prefer an out-of-hospital birth. We recommend maintaining, expanding or creating new midwifery units as they would benefit women, babies and services in two key ways. They would reduce the number of obstetric interventions which put further strain on resources and staff and possible admission to high dependency or intensive care units. They would also reduce the risk of infection from hospital settings for women, their babies, their birth supporters and midwives skilled in midwife-led birthing care in midwifery unit settings."
As part of these recommendations, the position statement suggests creating ‘pop-up’ midwifery units where needed, following a model from the Netherlands. On this point, Dr Rocca Ihenacho added:
“Pop-up birth centres can be created quickly, within 24 to 36 hours, in hotels closed because of the pandemic.”
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