Mothers-to-be should be given more opportunity to have their babies at home, according to leading experts.
Expectant mothers who are unlikely to need an emergency Caesarean or suffer life-threatening complications such as pre-eclampsia should be offered the chance to have their babies in birthing units or in their own homes, according to a report by the Royal Collage of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
The report says that too many babies are born in traditional hospital units and that maternity care across the NHS needs a radical shake-up that could lead to more women having babies at home.
It warns that there are not enough consultants in maternity units and junior doctors were often providing out-of-hours care. There were also concerns that maternity wards are becoming increasingly less safe due to a shortage of midwives.
Dr Anthony Falconer, president of the RCOG said: ‘There is a perception amongst patients that they still see the hospital birth as the safer option. The use of some of these midwife-led is not as great as it should be. These places are very safe and appropriate to have babies.’
However, Maureen Treadwell of the Birth Trauma Association said: ‘The problem with maternity care at the moment is that women can appear low-risk at the start and develop horrendous problems during thebirth.’ It’s also expensive she says. ‘If a woman wants a home birth, she will need two midwives and an ambulance – and there simply won’t be enough resources for this to happen on a large scale.’
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