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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 April 2006, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Home births up 71% in three years
Powys recorded the highest percentage of home births in Wales
The number of home births in Wales rose 71% in three years, keeping the country at the top of the UK league table for deliveries outside maternity wards.

Figures for 2004 show almost 1,000 women in Wales chose a home arrival, according to the maternity information website BirthChoiceUK.com.

The Welsh assembly has set a target of 10% home births by 2007.

A Welsh assembly government spokeswoman said Gwent, Powys and Bro Morgannwg reached that target recently.

BirthChoiceUK.com's data for 2004 shows the percentage of women in Wales having their baby at home rose by 16.2% to 981, to account for 3.06% of 32,000 births that year.

'Many barriers'

Across the UK, an average of 2.14% of births were at home, with 2.25% in England, 1.12% in Scotland and 0.38% in Northern Ireland.

In Wales, Powys had the highest rate of home births at 7.9%. Wrexham had the lowest rate at 1.1%.

The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) said Wales was setting an example for the rest of the UK that "home birth is a real option for women".

Percentage of home births per area
Anglesey 3.3%
Blaenau Gwent 3.9%
Bridgend 6.1%
Caerphilly 2.0%
Cardiff 2.0%
Carmarthenshire 5.1%
Ceredigion 3.3%
Conwy 3.1%
Denbighshire 2.0%
Flintshire 1.4%
Gwynedd 2.9%
Merthyr Tydfil 1.7%
Monmouthshire 4.4%
Neath Port Talbot 4.1%
Newport 1.7%
Pembrokeshire 3.8%
Powys 7.9%
Rhondda Cynon Taf 2.4%
Swansea 3.1%
The Vale of Glamorgan 3.7%
Torfaen 1.9%
Wrexham 1.1%
Head of policy Mary Newburn said: "It is great news that more women are choosing to give birth at home in Wales.

"However, women still find it difficult to choose a home birth, as there is often a succession of barriers in their way.

"First, many women are often not offered the kind of balanced information they need to be able to make an informed choice about where to have their baby.

"Then, women are often discouraged from thinking that they will be able to give birth without an epidural or other interventions.

"The current shortage of midwives also means that little is done to promote home births - so while the service is technically available, staff keep very quiet about this option.

"Finally, even if a home birth is booked, the service can be withdrawn at short notice if there aren't enough midwives available."

A spokeswoman for the Welsh Assembly Government said ministers were keen to see more healthy women thinking about home births as an alternative to hospital.

She said: "Latest figures, collected by the heads of midwifery in Wales, show that the number of home births has increased from 1% when we launched Delivering the Future in Wales in June 2002, to between 4% and 5% by the end of 2005.

"Bro Morgannwg, Gwent and Powys have already exceeded our target with more than 10% of births at home."

Hear from one mother who gave birth at home

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