Women encouraged to have home births
New research conducted at Oxford University suggests that for women who already have children, giving birth at home may be a safer and cheaper option than returning to hospital.
The study took into account the costs the NHS covers during labour, birth and post-natal care including the cost of care during birth, pain relief and any necessary medical intervention. In the case of home births, researchers studied the cost of medical intervention needed if women were transferred to hospital during birth or labour. Researchers studied the outcome of 64,000 births between 2008 and 2010 in England.
Home births are, on average, £300 cheaper than a hospital delivery provided that the woman in question is a “low-risk” patient. At the more extreme end of the scale, the study found that a planned birth for a woman who already has children costs up to £1,142, whereas a planned home birth costs around £780.
Liz Schroder, co-author of the study, explained: “The findings of the birthplace study may encourage women – particularly those having a second or subsequent baby – to request an ‘out of hospital’ birth.”
The study took into account the cheapest options which provided the best outcome for mother and baby. It also reiterated previous research that suggests first time mothers are almost three times as likely to have complications during birth as mothers who’ve given birth previously.
The Royal College of Midwives applauded the research and said that it could create a new standard for maternity services. The deputy general secretary, Louise Silverton, said: “The government constantly tells us it wants more for less and this is a shining example of how that can be delivered.”
The number of women admitted to hospital during a planned home birth currently stands at around 50% and one third of women admitted to midwifery units – a half-way house between a home birth and a hospital – have to be transferred to a specific obstetrics unit during their labours.