Skip to content

View Post

Why is it important to support Independent midwives in the UK?

Independent midwives,

as quoted in an article about the situation, written 4 years ago in the Independent, which still has relevant information

“  are keepers of vital midwifery skills which are lost to the NHS such as supporting  twin and breech deliveries”


“ highly skilled, amazing women, whose main passion in life is to empower strong, wonderful women during childbirth “.

Yet since 17th January, the regulatory body (NMC) in the UK has said they have to stop practising.

Even though there are only a small number of independent midwives in the UK, they play a vital role in keeping a woman focused, rather than medically focused, model of midwifery care. They often offer home birth as an option to women who would not be able to have that under the state system (the NHS). When I first started my work in Bristol in 1990, I ran some antenatal classes with Sue Learner,

and have always valued her work. I refer women to her if I feel they would benefit from a second opinion on their care or they want access to support which they can not have from the NHS . She was inspirational in getting the Cossham Birth centre set up in Bristol so that women could have more birth options on the NHS.

Sadly the role of midwives in many countries is being undermined, including in the Netherlands which has always had the highest number of home births in the world due to the number of midwives.

There is an interesting article on this topic here

In the 1970’s in the Netherlands over 70% of births were at home and since the 1990’s it has remained stable at 30%. This is still much higher than in most countries. However good news in the UK is that planned  home births are becoming seen as safer than hospital births especially for second time mothers.

In the UK, the NMC (Nursing and midwifery council: regulatory body for midwives) had been working with the independent midwives (IMUK) to ensure that they had appropriate insurance. However suddenly on 17th January, the NMC decided that independent midwives don’t have appropriate  insurance and said they had to stop practising or they risk being struck off the register. This means that independent midwives can’t attend women whose births they have booked to attend. There is even a midwife who can’t attend her own daughter’s birth, even if she doesn’t attend as her midwife.   

For current updates please go directly to the IMUK website

There is also an interesting blog piece here.

While I am focusing a little on the role of independent midwives, I would also like to draw attention to those in the UK to the wonderful organisation which is very woman focused and supports women to question the NHS if they feel they are not being given the care they need. This is AIMS. They have some great, well researched information and if you have any clients who need support to question medical decisions, they have a 24 hour help line. It is run by volunteers but you can support their work and also get access to valuable information by joining them

Their aims are:

  • Working towards normal birth
  • Providing independent support and information about maternity choices
  • Raising awareness of current research on childbirth and related issues
  • Protecting women’s human rights in childbirth

Let’s continue to work to support women to get the care they need during the maternity period.

Leave a Comment