Only 2.5 per cent of deliveries in England currently take place at home, but the number of women opting for a home birth is on the increase.
According to a study, funded by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), of all 6.3 million births in England and Wales between 1994 and 2003, for women who had a planned home birth, infant death rates were low (0.48 per 1,000 compared with the average death rate for all births of 0.79 per 1,000). However, for women who had intended to have a home birth but then transferred to hospital (which happens to around one in three attempted home-birthers) the infant death rate was much higher (6.05 per 1,000).
This indicates that for low-risk women who plan to give birth at home, as long as there are no complications, home birth is safe. Women who are considering it have to weigh up the advantages of home birth (being in familiar surroundings, with loved ones, without worrying about hospital infections or medical intervention) with the risks. Wherever you give birth, there are no guarantees. The choice is yours…
Listen to the experts
Talk to your GP and midwife: if they consider you to be low-risk, then a home birth could suit you. However, for women who have had complications during pregnancy or have a history of difficult labour/s, the odds stack up in favour of having medics on hand.
Women who’ve already had a previous straightforward labour and delivery are less likely to need to be transferred from home to hospital, which greatly reduces the risk to the baby.
Ask other mums who’ve had a home birth to tell you honestly how it went for them. Quiz them about how they felt about home birth before, during and after their baby was born.
Location, location, location
Factor in the time it would take you to transfer to your nearest maternity hospital should complications arise.
How high’s your pain threshold?
The pain relief options for women giving birth at home are limited, so if you’re likely to want an epidural, hospital is the best place for you.
Now tell us what you think…
The best for you and your baby, or a risky alternative? What’s your opinion of home births?