Expectant mothers in the UK are being told that giving birth at home is a safer option, a move that could potentially lead to hundreds of thousands of babies being born without doctors’ supervision.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence last Wednesday updated its advice to women to indicate that if women have had an uncomplicated pregnancy and have already had one child, they should consider giving birth at home with a midwife.
According to the Institute’s clinical practice director, Mark Baker, being at home with the help of a midwife or in a midwife-led clinic can be just as safe as giving birth in a hospital for mothers who’ve previously given birth successfully.
“Over the years, evidence has emerged which shows that, for this group of women, giving birth in a midwife-led unit instead of a traditional labour ward is a safe option,” he said.
“Research also shows that a home birth is generally safer than hospital for pregnant women at low risk of complications who have given birth before.”
However not everyone agrees
Michael Permezel, the president of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, says they do not support the move to encourage home births as a safer option.
“We know that most women want to do the absolutely safest thing, and even a risk of one in 1000 is absolutely too high for the vast majority,” he said.
Despite the risks, the new advice is is expected to garner plenty of support among midwives in both the UK and abroad.
The UK’s Royal College of of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists support of the change to recommend home births – but they have stressed the need for emergency support close by in case the need arises.
Here in Australia, Helen Dahlen, the national media spokeswoman for the Australian College of Midwives, claims this crucial change in UK policy is based on scientific research unlike the Australian system which is based on political bias and vested interests.