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Boom in private home births

Growing numbers of mums-to-be are choosing to have their babies delivered at home by independent midwives.

Posted: 18 August 2011
by Lara Brunt
Pregnant woman with midwife
Just over 1,000 women paid for private midwives last year - up from 350 in 2002.

An increasing number of women are opting out of the NHS and spending thousands of pounds to have their babies delivered at home by independent midwives.

According to new figures, more than 1,000 women paid for private midwives last year, which costs between £1,800 and £4,000.  While numbers are still small, this represents a three-fold rise in less than a decade.

"There are parts of the country, especially London and the South East, where the number of independent midwives can't keep up with the demand," Eleanor May-Johnson from Independent Midwives UK told The Telegraph.

"Those tend to be the same areas where the NHS maternity services are under pressure, and turning away women in labour."

Earlier this year, the Royal College of Midwives said maternity units were reaching "breaking point" due to midwife shortages.

The birthrate has risen by 19% in the last decade, while midwife numbers rose by just 12% - leaving a shortfall of more than 4,000 midwives across the NHS.

Separate figures show a further 2,000 expectant mums last year paid up to £500 each for doulas - who have no specific medical training - to give them one-to-one support through an NHS birth.

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