Study backs home births

A new study claims low risk mothers could save the NHS millions of pounds by not giving birth in hospital.

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Reaction to new home birth study

A new study claims low risk mothers could save the NHS millions of pounds by not giving birth in hospital. People have been giving their opinions on the findings at the ITV News Facebook page. Here are some of the comments:

Clair Hanson said: "Very glad to have had both mine in hospital. Home births are great if that is what you want but when you've paid NI all your working life you shouldn't be made to feel guilty about choosing to give birth in hospital."

Karen Lavender said: "I just had a home birth! I was treated better than I was the last time in hospital, the midwife was fantastic, and the experience was much more relaxing! The second midwife did not make it in time."

To join the debate click here.

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Home birth research 'paves the way for change'

This and other research points out the substantial benefits of midwife-led care: it is better for mothers and babies, it is better for midwives and it is better for the NHS. However, we are still seeing 96% of births taking place in hospitals and this underlines the need to make a fundamental change in the way we deliver maternity services in this country. The Government constantly tells us it wants more for less, and this is a shining example of how that can be delivered.

– Louise Silverton, Royal College of Midwives

The costs to the NHS of childbirth

The study by the University of Oxford looked at births in obstetric units, midwifery units located in the same hospital as an obstetric unit, free-standing midwifery units and home.

They assessed NHS costs associated with the birth, including care during labour, the cost of any stay in hospital, the cost of pain relief and any medical procedures needed in the case of complications.

The study is published on bmj.com, the website of the British Medical Journal Credit: Reuters

The costs for planned home and midwifery unit births taken into account included the cost of any clinical intervention needed if the mothers and babies were transferred to hospital but did not include any longer-term costs, such as caring for babies who suffer serious injuries during birth.

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Mothers may consider 'out of hospital birth'

At the time of the study, only half of the NHS trusts in England provided women with access to a midwifery unit, and occupancy levels were often low. The findings of the birthplace study may encourage women - particularly women having a second or subsequent baby - to request an 'out of hospital' birth. And the potential for cost savings could make offering women more choice an attractive option for the NHS.

– Liz Schroder, study co-author

Low risk home births 'could save millions of pounds'

Low risk mothers could save the NHS millions of pounds by not giving birth in hospital. The University of Oxford looked at the circumstances of 64,000 births in England between 2008 and 2010. They found:

  • Women who have already given birth could be better off having their next child at home
  • A planned birth in an obstetric unit is the most expensive option
  • The average cost is £1,142 per mother
  • A planned home birth is £780 per mother

The study adds that for women who have not had children before, a planned birth in a midwifery unit would also save money when compared with a planned birth in an obstetric unit.

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