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About Home Births

33.2% of all births in 1960 were at home compared with only 2.15% in 2002[1].

About 30% of first time mothers who plan a home birth will transfer into hospital, while 1 out of 12 of second time mothers will need to transfer in.

The National Birthday Trust survey of 6000 home births in 1994, published in 1997 found that outcomes from planned home births were just as good as from planned hospital births. They found that women’s satisfaction with home birth was greater than women’s satisfaction with hospital birth.[2]

The NCT questioned 167 Heads of Midwifery across the UK, with the vast majority (90%) believing home birth to be as safe as hospital birth for low-risk women. Despite this strong support – over half felt strongly that GPs in their area did not present home birth as positively as hospital birth.[3]

The benefits of homebirths are clear in the success story of the Albany midwifery practice in Peckham, London. Working in a socially deprived inner city community, the Albany midwives achieved a home birth rate of 43% in 1999. Nearly all the women (98%) had a midwife they knew in attendance. Compared with the national picture the Albany midwives also achieved lower induction, intervention and caesarean section rates, the women used less pain relief and nearly all of them (93%) breastfed at birth.

“A third of our clients are on benefits and many more are grappling with heavy socio-economic pressures.” These mothers go on to achieve a rate of spontaneous vaginal delivery in 87% of cases, a caesarean rate which is less than half the national average and 74% need no pain relief during labour. In addition, the rates for breastfeeding 28 days after birth stand at 96% as compared with the national average of 25%.[4]

Women who give birth at home, when matched with a similar control group had roughly “half the risk of experiencing caesarean sections, ventouse or forceps delivery and were less likely to suffer post partum haemorrhage. Babies born at home were significantly less likely to have low AGPAR scores or need resuscitation and they also suffered less birth injuries [5]

A study of home births in the Netherlands reported that planned home births are at least as good as that of planned hospital births in women at low risk. In second time mums women, perinatal outcome was significantly better for planned home births than for planned hospital births[6].

In a study of 1001 women who chose home births, 92% of mothers having second or later babies gave birth at home, and 8% (51 women) transferred to hospital during labour or the first four days afterwards. 68% of first-time mothers stayed at home, and 32% (116 women) transferred. Out of 1001 women, the caesarean rate was therefore 3.5%! The study also confirmed the excellent rates for breastfeeding after home birth. At 28 days, 98.6% of mothers were fully breastfeeding (ie no supplements). This is evidence that a relaxed start to family life helps establish breastfeeding [7].

[1] Birth Statistics, Series FM1 no.31, Office for National Statistics

[2] NCT- http://www.nctpregnancyandbabycare.com/nct-online/homebirth.htm

[3] http://www.nctpregnancyandbabycare.com/nct-online/hospital_homebirth.htm

[4] Demilew, J, South East London Midwifery Group Practice, MIDIRS Midwifery Journal, 1994; 4(3): 270-272

[5] Chamberlain G, WraightA, Crowley P eds Home Births: The report of the 1994 confidential enquiry by the National Birthday trust fund. Carnforth: Parthenon Publishing Group Ltd. 1997

[6] T A Wiegers, M J N C Keirse, J van der Zee, and G A H Berghs BMJ 23 November 1996; 313: 1309-1313.

[7] By H Tyson, Birth 1991 Mar;18(1):14-9

© Reproduced with permission of Natal Hypnotherapy

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