Home birth fall 'disappointing'

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The National Childbirth Trust and the Royal College of Midwives said the drop in the home birth rate, from 2.9% in 2008, to 2.7% in 2009, was "disappointing".

... Recent government policy has been to give women choice over where to give birth - whether in hospital, at home or in a birthing centre run by midwives.

It followed a dramatic fall in births at home in the UK in the last 30 years.

... In England, 17,834 women (2.7%) had a home birth in 2009, down from 2.8% of home births in 2008.

Wales fared better, with 3.8% ... an increase over the previous year.

In Scotland, 873 women (1.5%) had a home birth ... in Northern Ireland, 91 women (0.4%) had home births ...

Cathy Warwick, General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said the drop in the home birth rate was "a real disappointment".

... "These figures suggest to me that we are not providing the choice that women want and deserve, and that commissioners are not doing enough to offer them that choice.

"My worry is that increasing pressures and demands being made on midwives and maternity services are driving out choice for women.

"There is a real need to look behind these figures to find out why our home birth rate is so low and why it is falling."

Mary Newburn, of the charity The National Childbirth Trust, said they believed women were finding it more difficult to book a home birth.

She said: "There is no evidence of a reduction in demand, but we know maternity services are additionally stretched due to a rising birth rate and too few midwives.

"The option of booking a home birth should be offered as a mainstream option for all women who want it, alongside options to book for care at a birth centre and at a hospital maternity unit." ...

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448