Healthy women in the midst of a straightforward pregnancy should be encouraged to give birth in a midwife-led unit instead of a hospital, experts at the NHS watchdog have said.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) also provisionally says a home birth for a low-risk pregnant woman who already has at least one child, could be as safe as hospital.
Midwives should discuss all options with the mothers-to-be in their care, Nice added.
The watchdog currently recommends that women should be given the choice of where they want to give birth, but urges caution if a home birth or delivery in a midwife-led unit is planned.
Almost three-quarters of a million (729,000) babies were born in England and Wales in 2012 - a rise of about 20% from 2002, Nice said.
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