New National Statistics: Big increase in home births across UK<
The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) welcomes the significant rise in the number of women in the UK giving birth at home, according to official new data provided by by the Office of National Statistics, The General Register Office for Scotland and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency and analysed by BirthChoiceUK (available at www.BirthChoiceUK.com).
Across the UK in 2006, 18,953 of all births (741,952) took place at home, compared with 17,277 in 2005. This is an encouraging rise of 9.7% overall, but still only represents 2.5% of all UK births.
The biggest increase - more than 10% - has been in England, where 16,923 women had a home birth.
Scotland shows the second highest rise in the number of home births (762) with an increase of 9.2%. Wales has fallen behind with the smallest increase in home births (1177) - 0.9% - despite having the fastest growing home birth rate in the UK for 2005.
Mary Newburn, Head of Policy Research, NCT, said; "It's very pleasing to see that home birth rates are on the increase, allowing women and their partners greater choice. However, many women around the UK still find it difficult to access a home birth. There is a lack of balanced information available to enable them to make an informed choice about where to have their baby. Low midwifery staffing levels mean that too often the option of a home birth is either not being offered or services end up being withdrawn at short notice."
Local administrative areas with highest and lowest home birth rates include:-
West Somerset (England) - 14.2%
Middlesbrough (England) - 0.4%
Blyth Valley (England) - 0.4%
East Lothian (Scotland) - 4.8%
Renfrewshire (Scotland) - 0.3%
East Renfrewshire (Scotland) - 0.3%
Powys (Wales) - 10.7%
Conwy (Wales) - 0.9%
Government policy, as set out in Maternity Matters in England and the NICE Intrapartum Care Guideline, published by the Department of Health state that 'women should be offered the choice of planning birth at home, in a midwifery-led unit or a consultant-led unit.'
Mary Newburn continues;
"If the Government's choice guarantee for England is to be implemented by the end of 2009, considerable work must be done to increase access to home birth. We also welcome Keeping Childbirth Natural and Dynamic (KCND) in Scotland and the target for a 10% home birth rate in Wales as home birth initiatives."