Home births boom
Home births are making a comeback, according to figures released yesterday. The number rose 14 per cent to 17,000 last year despite warnings that they are riskier than hospital births.
It is thought that a Government pledge to increase women's choices about where and how they give birth explains the increase.
The trend may not last however because forthcoming guidance from the official health watchdog is expected to raise fears about home births.
Doctors and midwives may even be forced to tell pregnant women that a domestic delivery can be more dangerous than going to hospital.
The draft proposals come from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. It says there 'may be' an increased risk of perinatal mortality - death of the baby during or shortly after birth - if the child is born outside a labour ward.
The document, which will be finalised early next year, says that women who give birth at home or in a birthing unit are less likely to need forceps or epidural injections.
The downside is that these expectant mothers are farther away from the specialised care and equipment at hand in a traditional labour ward.
The National Childbirth Trust, which published the latest figures, insists there is no firm evidence that home births are riskier.
Mary Newburn, the trust's head of policy, said: 'We don't think there is evidence that out-of-hospital birth is unsafe and the latest figures show there has been an unmet demand for home births.
'Currently women in many areas of the UK still find it difficult to choose a home birth. There is not enough balanced information available to enable them to make an informed choice about where to have their baby.
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