Home births hit the headlines – what’s the story?

Giving birth at home has less than 1% chance of resulting in harm to your baby even if you’re a first time mum, according to study

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First time mums are being urged by some newspaper headlines today to reconsider home birth due to the risk of harming their baby. However, the chance of complications, including stillbirth, is less than 1% when you really look at the study in question.

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Professor Peter Brocklehurst led the research, which compared births at home, in midwife-led units attached to hospitals and those in stand alone and doctor-led hospital units. The results revealed that home births were the most risky. Yet, the landmark study, which looked at 65,000 births in England, also shows that overall, birth is safe wherever it takes place.

Midwife-led care proved most likely to lead to a natural birth, with just 4.5 out of 1,000 first-time births having complications. This figure rises to 9.3 per 1,000 for a home birth, however this is still less that 1%, reports the BBC.

The clear benefit of midwife-led care has prompted further calls for the Government to provide more local amenities and to increase options for home birth. Only 3% of births are at home and only 50% of NHS trusts have midwife-led units. Mary Newburn, from the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), stated this was a “disappointing” statistic.

Notably, when it comes to mums’ second birth, there is no difference in the risk of complications when comparing all options.

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