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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 April 2007, 00:05 GMT 01:05 UK
'I had to pay for my home birth'
The government is to give every woman a choice of where they give birth by the end of 2009.

Only a minority of expectant mothers opt for home births, but those who do often say they would never go back to hospital.

Ruth Weston with her son, Tom
Only a minority of births are delivered at home

Ruth Weston is such a believer in home births that she paid over 2,000 for a midwife for her fifth child.

The 38-year-old gave birth to Tom, now two, in December 2004 at her West Yorkshire home.

It was the fourth time she had given birth at home - only her first child, Hannah, was born in hospital.

However, she says she was forced into paying for a private midwife because of declining standards in the NHS in recent years.

"Over the last 10 years, I have seen standards decline. Midwives are too busy and the NHS does not seem to want to provide a home birth service.

In hospital you are treated as a patient or, even worse, an object
Ruth Weston

"For my fourth child, I wanted a water birth but when the midwife arrived she said she was not able to do that."

She ended up calling for back up to help her with the water birth, but at first no-one came, added Ms Weston.

"It was only when my husband said he would give her a hand that the hospital found someone."

Ms Weston did give birth at home, but had to be transferred immediately afterwards because of heavy bleeding.

"I ended up bleeding heavily and got post-natal depression.

"I can't help but thinking if the service had been better none of that would have happened."

No regrets

Nonetheless, Ms Weston said she has no regrets about paying the money.

If you and the baby are healthy then why not do it at home
Doris, UK

"Having a home birth is just so completely different to being in hospital. In hospital you are treated as a patient or, even worse, an object. You are shunted around and no-one seems to have any time for you.

"Whereas, at home the midwives are your guests and you get treated with much more care.

"I think all women should be given the option of having a home birth, but I do wonder if there are sufficient resources to ensure the care is as good as it should be."

Ruth Weston's childbirth experiences

Women to get childbirth choices
02 Apr 07 |  Health
Birthing centres to remain closed
15 Oct 05 |  Hampshire
Pregnant midwives shut baby units
21 Jun 05 |  Hampshire
How safe are home births?
23 Jun 06 |  Have Your Say

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