Childbirth revolution: Mummy State 6 April 2007 23:2 > News > Med

More women should have babies at home, not in hospital, says Health Secretary -By Marie Woolf and Sophie Goodchild – Published: 14 May 2006

Pregnant women are to be advised to give birth at home as part of a revolution in childbirth policy that will reverse decades of medical convention.

Patricia Hewitt, the Secretary of State for Health, is to “challenge the assumption”, prevalent since the 1970s, that the safest place to give birth is in hospital and that home births can be dangerous.

In what is being billed as a historic shift in the politics of childbirth, doctors will be told to offer all pregnant women the chance to deliver their baby at home with the help of a midwife and their own choice of pain relief.

The Independent on Sunday can today reveal that the Government is planning a “strategic shift” in childbirth policy away from hospital delivery and towards births in the reassuring surroundings of home. It has commissioned research to support the case for home births and “challenge the assumption that births should take place in hospitals”. The Secretary of State wants to “demedicalise” pregnancy and challenge the “presumption” that birth should take place under the supervision of a doctor.

“A strategic shift towards more home births is part of the Government’s move for more care to be provided in the community and in the home, and away from acute hospitals,” said a Health Department source.

The move comes as new figures reveal that more than 200,000 women, a third of all who give birth every year, suffer some psychological distress after delivery.

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