Home Birth Reference Site

Home Birth in the News

I have trouble keeping up with this page - you may notice a bit of a gap between 2002 and 2008! I would like to recommend Lisa Barrett's blog as a great source of press comments on homebirth and responses. Lisa is an independent midwife in Australia who has an outstanding homebirth record. She's originally from Wales, so is also on the ball about UK matters. (www.homebirth.net.au)

Articles added to the page most recently are listed first.

Mother dies of PPH after homebirth - 15 May 2008

A coroner's inquest heard how Joanne Whale died from PPH after giving birth at home on 10 September 2007. Joanne suffered an inverted uterus - a life-threatening complication - in the third stage, and transferred to hospital, but died five hours after transfer. The coroner was quite outspoken about home birth causing delays, but the issue appears to be lack of communication in the hospital after transfer.

Reports in the Times (archived version if that link breaks) and the East Anglian Daily Times (archived version)

Analysis and comment from Lisa Barrett

Telegraph, 28 April 2008

Telegraph Birth Guide: 'I couldn't have done it without her help'

Original story: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/main.jhtml?xml=/health/2008/04/28/hrowan12 8.xml - archived version

Rowan Pelling on the independent midwife who coached her towards the home birth she thought she'd never have.

Guardian 25 April 2008

Birth of a Revolution, by Joanna Moorhead

The Guardian had a positive article about homebirth and the Ricki Lake film 'The Business of Being Born'. Author Joanna Moorhead has had a homebirth herself. She spoke to two of us from the Homebirth UK email group - me and Michelle Barnes - as well as other homebirth mothers. There is a lovely photo of Michelle and her boys.

http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/women/story/0,,2276237,00.html - archived version

Sunday Telegraph 9 March 2008

More mothers are going for home births By Julia Llewellyn Smith

Positive story about why women (and 'celebrities') are choosing homebirth. I was interviewed for this and I was impressed with the journalist's open-minded attitude; she herself had elective caesareans for breech.

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2008/03/09/nhomebirth109.xml - backup copy here)

Telegraph Magazine 1 March 2008

Is home birth safe - and do women have the choice? by Lydia Gard

Very positive and well-informed article; not available in the online paper, so I've scanned it and you can read it here as a .pdf.

Guardian, 13 January 2008

Celebs, shock and gore! It's homebirth: the movie!

Too posh to push? No longer. Instead of an elective Caesarian, these days the fashionable crowd is going for the full delivery experience - at home. And leading the way is ex-talk show queen Ricki Lake, whose graphic homebirth video is set to be shown on the big screen. By Viv Groskop

http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/families/article3887554.ece From The TimesMay 8, 2008 Save the independent midwife, by Emma Mahony They are among the most skilful birth practitioners, yet they may become extinct

Albany Midwives - Guardian 24 July 2007

A Happy Birthday Every Day


These mothers have enjoyed a standard of care in pregnancy that most British women can only dream of. Lucy Atkins on the NHS's most talked about midwives

While women in the developing world are dying in childbirth, why are we fetishising doing it at home? Catherine Bennett The Guardian, Thursday April 5 2007 "There seems no reason, however, why this peculiarly middle-class form of self-absorption should be indulged by the rationing, supposedly rational NHS.... limited group of women who believe that state-funded childbirth should be tailored around their own lifestyle choices, as set out in bossy, novella-length birth plans: "Please keep the room as quiet as possible during the second stage," goes a suggested plan by home-birth advocate Angela Horn. "I would like to minimise distractions at this time. If you need to discuss matters with the second midwife, please could you do so very quietly and preferably out of earshot!" There is little evidence on the websites of this kind of demand emanating from pregnant women who live in cramped or uncomfortable conditions, for whom a stay in hospital might even be welcome. " http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/apr/05/comment.health1

2002 and earlier

Daily Mail, 16 August 2002

Dangers of breech births at home - Coroner warns against breech births at home after two babies die. (Backup copy here)

Daily Telegraph, 17 August 2001

Putting Mothers and Children First, by Eliza O'Driscoll - article about private maternity care and independent midwives, in hospital and at home (Backup copy here).

The Times, 15 May 1999 Valerie Grove meets Caroline Flint

Independent midwife, and former President of the Royal College of Midwives, Caroline Flint talks about the tragic hospital birth of a breech baby which led to investigations into her practice. Some mention of home births and her reasons for working as an independent midwife.

The Times, 13 January 2001 My stomach is a seething mass of limbs

Emma Mahony writes about planning a home birth for twins, as she awaits the birth of her babies.

The Times, 2 December 2000 It's your baby so the choice is yours

Emma Mahony writes about birth choices, and how women can be vulnerable to 'bullying' from the medical profession.

Sheila Kitzinger's Home Birth Matters

The state of home birth in the UK and abroad, including comments on James Drife's claims. Highly recommended and well-referenced article. Published in BIRTH - Issues in Perinatal Care, March 2000 Vol. 27.1

Observer, May 7, 2000: Midwife crisis puts home births at risk

Campaigners fear for safety of unsupervised deliveries as staff shortages hit hospitals - by Anthony Browne, health editor

Daily Telegraph, 8 July 2000 Lightly Born - Just how risky is it to have your baby at home? by Sarah Lonsdale

Despite the title, this article doesn't really investigate the question of risk - it focuses instead on using independent midwives. Interesting, but misinformed in parts - read some responses here.

Letter to the British Medical Journal, 9 October 1999 Data on babies' safety during hospital births are being ignored

Professor Drife opines that the safety of home birth has been exaggerated, and that his own statistical analysis suggests that "for a normal birth, hospital delivery is now three to four times safer than home delivery for the baby.". Several experts responded with criticisms of Drife's approach, and he later wrote to correct some of his statistics - all linked from the original article. See also Research Summaries - Controversies.

Sunday Times, 29 August 1999 - 'Home births or hospital? It's baby who knows best'

'Many doctors oppose home births. They have good reason.' says Karen Robinson. Apparently women who choose home births are selfish and irresponsible, and are risking baby's life for their own benefit, because of course hospital birth is the 'safest and best' option. She certainly read around the medical literature, then.

Responses to the above article, published on this site as the Sunday Times will not be able to publish them all! Includes detailed response from Beverley Lawrence Beech.

The Independent - 'Give Me Hospital Birth Any Day'

The author believes that chidbirth organisations should stop 'wittering' about home birth. The full article is not available online, but a discussion of it here explains the main points. Links to responses from Beverley Lawrence Beech of AIMS, Mary Newburn of the NCT, and others.

Daily Telegraph - 'Family doctors still oppose home births' 23 August 1999

Refers to the National Childbirth Trust's findings that some GPs do not tell women about all their options.

The Times, 20 May 1999 Letter from Professor James Drife

The notorious Professor Drife (famous for his opposition to home and water birth - he also writes a witty column in the British Medical Journal) claims that hospital mortality rates for low-risk babies are three times lower than some figures quoted for home births. He elaborates on this argument in his letter to the British Medical Journal, mentioned above.

Response from Dr Gavin Young , 26 May 1999

Birth risks
From Dr Gavin Young

Sir, I am surprised at Professor Drife's letter (May 20) in which he states "hospital birth is three times safer than home".

The Fifth Annual Report of CESDI (Confidential Enquiry into Stillbirths and Deaths in Infancy) 1998 contained a report from a focus group on "Place of Delivery".

I was a member of that group. We were unable to make a fair comparison between home and hospital for several reasons: the number of deaths in either setting is, mercifully, very small; not all women who choose home birth are "low risk" - some choose home against professional advice; and some at "low risk" reject advice when complications arise.

For women who fit accepted criteria and continue to accept their carers' advice, it is not possible to say whether home or hospital is safer.

The continued argument over this is futile - only a randomised, controlled trial can answer the question and it is now impractical to recruit the very large number of women needed for such a trial. We will never know. Doctors and midwives would be better employed making home and hospital safer.

Yours sincerely,
The Surgery, Barn Croft, Temple Sowerby, Penrith, Cumbria CA10 1RZ.
May 23.

Guardian, 13 May 1999: Natural born backlash , By Catherine Bennett

Bennett claims that a backlash against natural birth and home birth is in progress, as the risks of these choices become known.

"What the advocates of home birth never say is that a home birth is substantially more risky. They don't mention that up to 25% of women will be transferred to hospital because of complications. They don't point out that a supposedly 'low risk' birth can suddenly turn high risk. If it does, the mother and her baby may suffer from a delay in effective treatment....The government's Confidential Enquiry Into Stillbirths has found that a planned home birth may more than double the risk of a baby dying.

The enquiry mentioned, the 5th Annual CESDI report, did not find any such thing - it did not even compare mortality rates between home and hospital birth. Bennett's claims appear to be based upon the arguments of James Drife, which are noted above (26 May 1999 and 9 October 1999, BMJ) - see the articles linked above for conflicting views from other experts.

Response to 'Natural Born Backlash' from Professor Wendy Savage and Sheila Kitzinger

Brief response addressing a few of the points - scroll down to sub-heading "...and other outrages".

Daily Telegraph, 18 January 1997

Home Birth in the UK - choosing home birth should become easier in the light of research suporting safety, and more enlightened attitudes from doctors.

Daily Telegraph, 1 March 1997

No Place Like Home: 'Don't have your baby in hospital, advises Sarah Raven - and she's a doctor'.

British Medical Journal editorial: states that home birth is safe for normal, low-risk women, with adequate support.

Daily Telegraph, 6 March 1996

Choosing a home birth soured the relationship - family struck off their GP's list because they chose home birth.

This page updated 16 May 2008


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