Birth facts and figures

How are babies being born?

2,000 babies are born in the UK every day (UK National Statistics Office

In 2011

  • 41.8% of babies were born ‘normally’ – with no intervention
  • 24.8% were born by caesarean
  • 12.5% were born with help from either a ventouse or forceps
  • 21.3% were born after their mothers have been induced

The number of babies delivered by caesarean continues to grow year on year. This increase corresponds with a decrease in ‘normal’ births



Where are babies being born?

In 2011

Just over 90% were born in hospital

7% were born in midwife led units

2.49% of all babies born were born at home

Office of National Statistics


Let’s talk money

How much does birth cost?

  • A planned birth in an obstetric unit of a hospital for a woman who has already had a baby (the most expensive birth option)  -  £1,631 per woman
  • Planned homebirth (cheapest birth option) - £1067 per woman (British Medical Journal, April 2012
  • Caesarean birth costs average £1701
  • Vaginal delivery £749 
  • Each 1% rise in c-section rate costs the NHS £5 million, that’s the equivalent of 167 midwives (Lester, 2005, The Argument for Caseload Midwifery)

(Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology)

The overall increase in babies born by C-Section has not been accompanied by a measurable improvement in outcomes for the baby and has been shown to carry an increased risk of morbidity for the mother when compared to normal delivery

(NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement)

By creating more Midwife Led Units (MLU) and ensuring that all mum-to-be are given the option of a homebirth (if there is no medical reason not to have the baby at home) the NHS will save money. That’s not to say that homebirth or birth in a MLU is right for every mum, but offering everyone the choice makes sense from the mums point of view and financially too.

What mums think (according to a Quality Care Commission Survey)

A survey of NHS Trusts carried out in 2010 into Women’s experiences of maternity care in the NHS and England found that:

  • 83% of women said that they were given a choice about where to have their baby, but only 74% said that they were given the choice of having their baby at home
  • Of those mums who had seen a midwife for antenatal checkups, 43% had not seen the same midwife ‘every time’ or ‘most of the time’
  • During labour and/or birth 22% of respondents reported that they had been left alone by midwives for doctors at a time when it worried them and 29% did not always feel involved in decisions about their care
  • Only 25% of women had previously met any of the staff that looked after them during labour and birth.
  • Unsurprisingly the survey showed that if a woman had previously met the staff caring for them during labour, they were more likely to have confidence and trust in them
  • 21% of women said that they would have liked to have seen a midwife more often after the birth of their baby
  • Of those respondents who stayed in hospital after the birth 47% said they were not always given the information or explanations they needed and 37% felt they had not always been treated with kindness and understanding
  • Only 36% of women said that they had received consistent advice from midwives and other carers with regards to feeding their baby (breast or bottle), 22% said that they had not received practical help with feeding and 22% said that they had not received active support or encouragement
  • Only 20% of women said they had one midwife who looked after them during labour and birth.  43% reported that three or more midwives looked after them at this time (2007 Survey)
  • 65% of women felt they ‘definitely’ got the pain relief they wanted. 28% felt that they had ‘to some extent’.
  • 64% of women felt that they were able to move around and choose the position that made them feel comfortable ‘most of the time’ in labour