Home births in Wales double over decade

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I live for the day that we have these headlines here in Australia!

The number of women who give birth to their children at home in Wales has more than doubled in less than a decade ...

Since 2002 ... they have risen from 604 to approximately 1,395 last year.

There has also been a rise in women giving birth in midwife-led units.

... the assembly government has encouraged healthy women with low-risk pregnancies to have their babies out of hospitals.

In 2002, maternity services in Wales were asked to reach a 10% home birth rate by 2007, making it the only nation in the UK to have a target.

Midwives say that while it was a very ambitious aim and many areas have not managed to reach it, it has helped transform the choice in maternity services.

On average, 4% of births in Wales last year were at home, which is higher than the UK average of 3%.

Laura Williams gave birth to her daughter Megan at home in Porthcawl, Bridgend county, on 5 November, 2009.

... "I wanted to be in a more comfortable environment - I liked the fact that with a home birth I could use my own shower and sit on my own sofa.

"As it was, I had a fantastic birth at home. I borrowed a friend's pool and was really relaxed. The midwife even cleared everything up afterwards - I saw no mess.

... "I also think the fact I was at home and relaxed helped my recovery from the birth - the next day I was up and about and even popped to the shops."

... "Midwives are continuing to work towards it because many see the benefits home births bring.

"They are cost effective in that women don't need to stay in hospitals.

"And for the mother, there is less risk of medical intervention, the birth is well planned, she is in a relaxed environment and often doesn't have to leave other children."

... Rather than staffing a large obstetric unit at a hospital, which midwives have to do in more populated areas, they can "focus on staffing women's needs", she said.

... The issue of home births has been in the headlines recently after medical journal The Lancet said mothers-to-be should not be able to opt for them if they put their babies at risk. Under UK law women can override medical advice.

It came after research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology suggested home births were more risky than hospital delivery.

But the Royal College of Midwives said the research was "flawed", and the assembly government insisted that only women with low-risk pregnancies were encouraged to have their children at home.

The chief nursing officer for Wales, Rosemary Kennedy, said: "It is for midwives and other health professionals to explain to pregnant women the birthing options available to them, and decide on the most appropriate option after considering their medical history and preferences."...

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448