A major new study of over half a million births has found that for a woman who has no known pregnancy or health problems, giving birth at home is as safe as having her baby at hopsital.
Good news for those who want to give birth at home
The study was carried out in the Netherlands, where home births occur far more regularly than they do in the UK. (Here, home births are on the rise but still only account for less that three per cent of all births in England and Wales, according to the Office for National Statistics.)
The study looked at nearly 530,000 births and found that the death rates of mothers and babies were the same, whether the birth had taken place at home or at hospital. The study showed that women who were considered low-risk (whether the mother had no ongoing medical problems which could affect the birth and where there were no pregnancy complications) fared well if they stayed at home to complete the birth rather than going to hospital after the labour had started.
The study acknowledged the importance of the quality of midwife care in those home births and it has been questioned whether we have this level of resources available to achieve the same in this country.
At a time when organisations like the Royal College of Midwives are calling for less intervention during births (for example, reducing the number of instances where an epidural is given) as part of their Campaign for Normal Birth, the news that home births are safe is very welcome.
For more about what midwives think of the study and its implications in this country, go to www.rcm.org.uk.