Unsurprisingly, the NICE guidelines announcing that midwife-led delivery is safer than a labour ward for low risk deliveries has sparked a lot of debate and discussion.
NICE clearly states that a home birth is as safe for the baby as a delivery in a midwife-led unit or in a traditional labour ward, provided that the woman has a low risk pregnancy and she has had at least one child before.
Many experts have interpreted this as a cost-cutting exercise as home births are cheaper than hospital births. Every home birth saves the NHS £380.
Although home births often sound very idealistic for many women as the rate of medical intervention is lower, many women do not think about the practical issues of giving birth at home (including all the mess!). Women need to know that around 12% of low risk women having a home birth will require an ambulance transfer to a hospital. Some areas of UK do not have resources to offer one-to-one midwives and in many places the ambulance services are already very stretched.
Many women do not also realise that epidurals can not be given at home so many experience more pain than they would have done if they were giving birth in a hospital setting.
Obviously it is important that women are given choices regarding their deliveries of their babies but it is imperative that they are given all the information – positive and negative regarding having a home delivery.