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NHS Maternity Statistics, England - 2020-21

Official statistics

Current Chapter

NHS Maternity Statistics, England - 2020-21


This is a publication on maternity activity in English NHS hospitals. This report examines data relating to delivery and birth episodes in 2020-21, and the booking appointments for these deliveries. This annual publication covers the financial year ending March 2021.

Data is included from both the Hospital Episodes Statistics (HES) data warehouse and the Maternity Services Data Set (MSDS). HES contains records of all admissions, appointments and attendances for patients admitted to NHS hospitals in England. The HES data used in this publication are called 'delivery episodes'. The MSDS collects records of each stage of the maternity service care pathway in NHS-funded maternity services, and includes information not recorded in HES.

The MSDS is a maturing, national-level dataset. In April 2019 the MSDS transitioned to a new version of the dataset. MSDS v2.0 is an update to the previous data set that introduced a new structure and content, including clinical terminology, in order to meet current clinical practice and incorporate new requirements. It is designed to meet requirements that resulted from the National Maternity Review, which led to the publication of the Better Births report in February 2016. This is the second publication of data from MSDS v2.0 and data from 2019-20 onwards is not directly comparable to data from previous years.

This publication shows the number of HES delivery episodes during the period, with a number of breakdowns including by method of onset of labour, delivery method and place of delivery.

It also shows the number of MSDS deliveries recorded during the period, with breakdowns including the baby's first feed type and the folic acid use. This year, for the first time, information has been included from MSDS v2.0 on babies' birthweight, place of birth and breastfeeding activity; and mothers' ethnicity, deprivation, age at booking, and previous live and caesarean births. The breastfeeding data is available in a separate file to the other measures. Changes have also been made to how smoking at booking is counted and how breakdowns of gestational age at delivery and birth are presented, information on both these changes can be found in the MSDS Metadata file below. The count of Total Babies has changed from only live births to all births and Total Deliveries to counting all those where the baby had a registered birth date within the 2020-21 year as opposed to a labour onset date which has a lower level of data completion; this has resulted in an increase to the counts of babies and deliveries reported and any comparison between 2019-20 and 2020-21 figures should be done with care. These changes more closely align the annual MSDS data published here with the information in the Maternity Services Monthly Statistics publication.

In this publication we have also introduced a new interactive Power BI dashboard to enable users to explore key NHS Maternity Statistics measures. To provide any feedback on this dashboard please contact [email protected], with the subject “NHS Maternity Statistics dashboard”.

On 9 March 2021, five new pages were added to the interactive dashboard, to better enable users to assess and compare the data quality of the MSDS and HES data.

The purpose of this publication is to inform and support strategic and policy-led processes for the benefit of patient care. This document will also be of interest to researchers, journalists and members of the public interested in NHS hospital activity in England.

Number of deliveries in NHS hospitals

There were 559,728 deliveries during 2020-21.

This is a decrease of 5.4 per cent from 2019-20.

Source: HES

Method of delivery

The most common method of delivery was spontaneous.

This was the most common across all age groups, apart from 40 and over where the most common method of delivery was caesarean.

Source: HES

Skin-to-skin contact

74.7 per cent of babies born at 37 weeks had skin-to-skin contact within 1 hour of birth.

Source: MSDS

Folic acid supplement

85.9 per cent of women reported taking a folic acid supplement prior to, or on confirmation of, pregnancy.

Source: MSDS

Annual Interactive Dashboard 2020-21

This tool is in Microsoft PowerBI which does not fully support all accessibility needs. If you need further assistance, please contact us for help.

Last edited: 15 September 2023 5:20 pm