Public Health and Midwifery

Maternity services are faced with a constantly changing population and as such, the services offered to users need to be adapted regularly in order to keep up with changing demands. Since 1985, there has been a definite shift in women having their first baby’s later in life (Baxter 2009).   This is a trend that today continues to grow in the UK and other developed countries such as Western Europe, the USA and Canada (Baxter 2009; Delpisheh et al. 2008; Office for National Statistics 2009; WHO 2008; Bushnik & Garner 2008; CDC 2009). As such, advancing maternal age has been identified as a growing epidemiological risk factor in which it is emerging as a growing public health concern (RCOG 2009). An increase in teenage parenthood brought about the introduction of specifically designed antenatal education to combat issues raised by parental age. I think similarly that specialised antenatal education needs to be offered to parents of an advanced age in an attempt to tackle the anxieties faced by older women and their partners throughout childbirth. I have employed the use of Ewles and Simnet’s ‘Seven Stage Plan for Improving Health’ (Ewles and Simnett 2003 see Appendix 1) in order to set out a pilot intervention to offer specialised antenatal education to parents over 35 years old.
The reasons for advancing maternal age are complex (RCOG 2009) but some contributing factors include pursuing successful careers, increasing numbers of women with higher education, delaying until financially stable and an increased availability of fertility treatments (Heffner 2004; RCOG 2009; Schardt 2005). Recent figures from the Office of National Statistics show that the occurrence of women having their first live baby aged forty plus has doubled over the past decade (ONS 2009). Within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC), figures from the Department of Health of births in the area between 1999-2000 showed that 30% of births in this borough...