Researchers from the Netherlands, where one third of women choose to give birth at home, looked at 530,000 births, and found that for low risk mothers (meaning those with no known complications), there was no greater risk of babies dying or becoming ill if they were born at home rather than in hospital.
“These results should strengthen policies that encourage low-risk women at the onset of labour to choose their own place of birth,” said Professor Simone Buitendijk from the TNO Institute for Applied Scientific Research, who conducted the research.
In the UK, the number of mothers giving birth at home has been rising since a low in 1988. In 2006, of all births in England and Wales, 2.7% took place at home.
The Royal College of Midwives said the study was a major step forward for showing that home births were safe for women with a low risk of complications.