Obese Mums-to-be Must Travel

Overweight mothers-to-be in a Somerset town are being sent to a hospital in Bristol to give birth because the local unit cannot cope with their size.

An NHS trust, Weston General Hospital, in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, sends obese expectant mothers 20 miles away to give birth. Women with a Body Mass Index of 34 and over cannot be safely managed in the low risk midwife led birthing centre.

A spokeswoman for the NHS trust said that their "foremost concern is for the safety of mothers and their babies. Mothers with a high BMI are at increased risk in labour of bleeding, instrumental delivery or complications such as the baby’s shoulder becoming trapped behind the pubic bone."

"For these reasons of safety only, women with a BMI of more than 34 that they will need to deliver at the full obstetric unit at St Michael’s in Bristol. Similarly, women who have gained more than 44lb (20kg) in 36 weeks of pregnancy are also told they will need to deliver in Bristol."

A spokeswoman for Weston Area Health Trust said women were fully aware of the situation from the start of their pregnancy. She said: "Weston has a low-risk, midwife-led birth centre. Our foremost concern is for the safety of mothers who deliver here and their babies".

The local Slimming World class leader Carole Welch said it was unfair many women could not safely give birth near their home, and called for the hospital to upgrade its facilities, because of the increasing obesity problem.

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