Giving birth at home or in midwife-led centres is safer than hospital for women having a straightforward, low risk, pregnancy – according to new evidence
Healthcare professionals believe this to be because the rate of interventions, such as the use of forceps or an epidural, is lower.
The outcome for the baby is no different compared with traditional labour wards for women that have already had a child, the research revealed.
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New guidance released by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) recommends that low-risk mums-to-be women should be encouraged to give birth at midwife-led units rather than traditional labour wards, excluding first-time mothers.
Nice also recommends that home births are also equally as safe as a midwife-led unit and traditional labour ward for the babies of low risk pregnant women.
Susan Bewley, Professor of Complex Obstetrics at King’s College London, said: ‘Midwives are highly capable professionals and can provide amazing one-to-one care to pregnant women in labour, whether that’s in a woman’s own home, a midwife-led unit or a traditional labour ward.’
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Mums-to-be have a right to choose where they feel safest, whether that’s at home or at hospital. ‘Giving birth is a highly personal experience and there is no ‘one size fits all’ model that suits all women,’ Bewley added.
Expectant mothers should in the future be provided with the data that these conclusions have been drawn from to encourage them to consider a wider range of choices before making a final decision about where to give birth, the new NICE guideline states.
Professor Mark Baker, NICE’s clinical practice director, said: ‘Where and how a woman gives birth to her baby can be hugely important to her. Although women with complicated pregnancies will still need a doctor, there is no reason why women at low risk of complications during labour should not have their baby in an environment in which they feel most comfortable.
‘Our updated guideline will encourage greater choice in these decisions and ensure the best outcomes for both mother and baby.’
‘All women giving birth should have timely access to an obstetric unit if they need to be transferred to hospital for medical reasons or because they request an epidural,’ Nice guidelines also started.