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Sunday, 24 June, 2001, 23:10 GMT 00:10 UK
Women denied home birth choice
New-born baby
Midwives say women are not offered full choices on birth
Midwives claim women across the UK are missing out on home births because of the negative views of many GPs.

A survey by the National Childbirth Trust quizzed 167 heads of midwifery and found that half thought their local GPs did not present home births for low risk pregnancies as positively as they did hospital births.

Some of those questioned even suggested GPs were neglecting to discuss the advantages of home births properly with mothers-to-be and then were reluctant to support the women who opted for it.

In the UK only about 2.6% of births take place at home each year.

We want to see a move towards more flexible, midwife-led maternity services, based around the needs of women

Brenda Phipps, of the NCT
Brenda Phipps, chief executive of the NCT, said their survey revealed that women need to get better information about home births.

"We believe that women do not receive enough information about home birth from health professionals to be able to make an informed choice.

"Nationally, one woman in five wants to know more about home birth, but only around one baby in 50 is actually born at home.

Mother and baby
Home births: "Family experience"
"We want to see a move towards more flexible, midwife-led maternity services, based around the needs of women."

Frances Day-Stirk, from the Royal College of Midwives, said although they were not necessarily advocating home births they did feel it was important all women are given the full range of choices.

And she said midwives, as well as GPs, had a role in ensuring their patients' were fully informed.

"I think as midwives we have a big role to play in presenting this information."

But GP Dr Peter Holden, of the British Medical Association, said he was surprised that midwives were pushing a positive image of home births when they had too few staff to deliver the service.

"I think that most GPs present both sides of the argument equally.

"I am not against women having an informed choice, but it must be a fully informed choice and at the moment the midwives do not have the resources.

"If you are in labour in hospital you need one midwife, but if you give birth at home then you need two midwives."

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See also:

29 Nov 00 | Health
Midwives warn of staff shortages
23 Aug 99 | Health
Doctors oppose home births
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