Who runs this website?

This site is owned and maintained as a public service by Angela Horn. My aims are to support informed choice for parents, and to encourage evidence-based, woman-centred practice for professionals. I hope that helping people to find and use the evidence on birth options will further both aims - which is why this site focuses on published research.

I started investigating research on home birth safety in 1996 and established this website in February 1999. From 2000 to 2003 I was National Home Birth Support Coordinator of the National Childbirth Trust, a voluntary role which involved promoting the home birth choice within the NCT and to the public, and helping home birth support groups in the UK. I was also a member of the Maternity Services Liaison Committee (MSLC) of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, and formerly of Greenwich District Hospital.

Personal Background

I am the full-time mother of six children who were born at home between 1998 and 2010.

Angela, carrying baby Bobby in a sling

Angela carrying baby R.

Academic Background

Before having children I was studying for a PhD in philosophy (logic and ethics) at King's College, London. I have a particular interest in bioethics and medical ethics, with a focus on individual autonomy. I taught ethics to several tutorial groups of undergraduates at King's.

I previously gained an MPhil in Philosophy at King's, with a 35,000-word thesis on the Epistemic view of Vagueness, together with exams on Philosophy of Science, Ethics and Aristotle. I benefited from a Claude R Lambe Fellowship from the Institute for Humane Studies, which helped me to complete my MPhil. My first degree was a BA (First Class) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) from Oxford University (Worcester College) where I specialised in Philosophy and Economics. I was awarded a Scholarship after my first year exams.

During my academic studies I was fortunate to attend a number of seminars organised by Liberty Fund and the Institute for Humane Studies in Europe and the United States, which encouraged research into individual autonomy and liberty. My interest in home birth grew not only from personal preference, but also from a philosophical commitment to the right of the individual and her family to make their own choices in matters regarding their own health and wellbeing, regardless of the public acceptability of those choices.

What are my qualifications to discuss medical research?

Probably the same as yours - that I am a rational individual, and I can read! I am not a health professional, but non-medics should not be afraid to look at research on health matters. Medical staff often will simply not have time to keep up to date with research on a specific subject, so when we read up on the subject as clients or patients, we are not only making sure that our own decisions are informed, but we may also alert our midwives and doctors to new developments in the area. Please note that this site offers only information for you to discuss with your own healthcare providers - it does not offer medical advice.

Anyone can set up a website - it does not mean that they are qualified to talk on a subject, or that they are telling the truth. For these reasons it is vital that claims are well referenced, so that readers can check for themselves. In fact, I do not want you to take my word for anything - this is why I give sources for all research quoted, so that you can check it for yourself.

The Home Birth Reference Site contains many summaries from abstracts of medical research. Where I have added personal comments, this is clearly indicated. You can check most of the papers yourself online - many abstracts are available on Medline, and some full articles in publications such as the British Medical Journal. Where possible I have linked to the original articles or their abstracts.

I have summarised the main points from research abstracts of home birth studies. The list is intended to give an objective overview of available research, not just those studies which support my own point of view. I have also tried to focus on the more recent studies, as comparisons between home and hospital birth thirty years ago do not necessarily tell us much about the situation today. A discussion of study selection and methodology is also available.

Biographical information has always been available on this site as I believe it is important to check your sources. However, links to it have been made more prominent as the page may have been hard to find. This page was last updated on 22 May 2006.

You can contact me via the Homebirth UK yahoogroup.

Home Birth Reference Site
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www.homebirth.org.uk