Mother and Baby

Home Births Are ‘As Risky As Allowing Children Not To Wear A Seatbelt’, Claim Experts

A home birth is a popular choice with lots of couples but will this new research put you off having one?

Experts have warned pregnant women about the risks of having a home birth, saying that there’s a high risk attached.

Calling them ‘as risky as allowing children not to wear a seatbelt,’ the two experts, from Oxford and Melbourne University, say that ‘couples should be warned of avoidable and foreseeable risks of future child disability’.

They said that a lack of oxygen during home births can lead to motor and cognitive problems and cerebral palsy.

‘Vital delays are inevitable in some cases,’ the professors of obstetrics/ gynaecology and philosophy wrote in the Journal of Medical Ethics. ‘These can lead to disability, which was avoidable if the delivery had occurred in hospital.'

The NHS says that everyone woman has the right to give birth at home

The duo looked at 500,000 cases in studies of home birth studies and found that fatality rates among babies have trebled. One study, conducted in 2011 by Oxford University, found that babies born to new mums during a home birth were three times more likely to face a medical complication or not survive and a Birthplace in England study showed that babies born at home were almost three time more likely to suffer serious problems compared with babies born in hospital.

The NHS says that everyone woman has the right to give birth at home, in a unit run by midwives or in a hospital but this choice will be dependent on your type of pregnancy and the risks involved.

However, home births do have benefits, as Elizabeth Duff, a senior policy advisor at the National Childbirth Trust, has pointed out in the wake of this study. 

‘Home birth should be considered a mainstream option for women in the UK alongside birth centres and hospital maternity units, provided women have a straightforward pregnancy,’ says Elizabeth. ‘There are many potential benefits to having a home birth, especially for low risk women and second time mothers, including better outcomes associated with continuity of care. For higher risk mothers or those having their first baby, giving birth in a hospital may be the preferred choice.’

But Elizabeth does agree ‘It is crucial that prospective parents are offered the highest quality information about the risks and benefits of all birth settings.’

Click here for more information on home births.

Are you considering a home birth? Let us know what’s swaying your decision below.


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