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Publication, Part of

NHS Maternity Statistics, England - 2020-21

Official statistics

Deliveries over time

This section reports on the number of reported deliveries. A delivery is the term used to describe child birth in HES data and is the ending of a pregnancy by one or more babies leaving a woman's uterus by vaginal passage or caesarean section.

Within this section we explore how the relationship between reported number of deliveries by women’s age group, type of delivery at both the onset and end of labour and the frequency that anaesthetics and analgesics were administered either before or during delivery.

Percentages in the following commentary, unless otherwise stated, are based on total ‘knowns’, e.g. the percentage of caesareans is based on all deliveries with a known method of delivery, excluding those with an unknown method of delivery.

Summary of deliveries

The chart below shows how the number of deliveries has changed over the last 10 years.

There were 559,728 deliveries in NHS hospitals during 2020-21. This is a decrease of 5.4 per cent from 2019-20.

Over the past ten years numbers of deliveries in NHS Hospitals fluctuated but are now at their lowest reported level in this time.

Deliveries by age group

When comparing to a base year of 2010-11, deliveries for all age groups of women have declined although by only 2 per cent level for women aged 30 to 39 years in 2020-21 compared to 2010-11.

Deliveries amongst women aged under 20 have more than halved since 2010-11 with 13,689 deliveries in 2020-21.

Method of onset

Method of onset describes the means by which labour was initiated. Where this begins without pharmacological, mechanical, or operative intervention is said to be spontaneous. 

Spontaneous method of onset is most common as a proportion of total deliveries but has decreased from 67 per cent in 2010-11 to 47 per cent in 2020-21.

Caesarean method of onset increased from 12 per cent to 18 per cent and induced method of onset from 21 per cent to 34 per cent in the period 2010-11 to 2020-21.

Last edited: 15 September 2023 5:20 pm