Giving birth at home ‘safer’ for mums than in hospital

Women are better off giving birth at home or in midwife centres than in hospital, where doctors are more likely to perform interventions such as caesareans, according to new British guidance. The official body in charge of giving health advice in the UK, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), said that women with straightforward pregnancies are safer under the care of midwives at home or in midwife centres. Women who give birth in labour wards in hospitals — who make up 90 per cent of all births — are more likely to undergo interventions such as birth by forceps and caesarians.

Surgical interventions can be very costly, so midwifery-led care is value for money while putting the mother in control and delivering healthy babies.

Mark Baker, head of clinical practice at NICE

Sources said they suspected busy doctors wanted to progress slow labours before the end of their shift by carrying out unnecessary caesareans, in situations where midwives would be more patient. The evidence found that outcomes for babies were the same across all settings, except for those being born at home to first-time mothers, where the risk of a serious medical problem is slightly higher.