NHS watchdog calls for more midwife-led births

Healthy women who have had an uncomplicated pregnancy should feel comfortable to give birth in a midwife-led unit rather than a hospital, the NHS watchdog has said.

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Midwife-led units 'as safe as traditional labour wards'

Specialist midwife-led units which care for women giving birth are just "as safe as traditional labour wards", the NHS watchdog has said.

Christine Carson, clinical guideline programme director for Nice, said:

We now know that these units are as safe as traditional labour wards for all low-risk pregnant women and are more likely to result in a better birth experience with less medical intervention.

The evidence also highlights that home births are just as safe as other settings for low-risk pregnant women who already have at least one child, but not for women expecting their first baby.

However, every woman should ultimately have the freedom to choose where she wants to give birth and be supported in her choice.

– Christine Carson


More women should give birth on 'midwife-led units'

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 recommendations come after warnings about a lack of trained midwives on the NHS. Credit: PA

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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