Several decades of prevailing medical wisdom on the best place for you to have your baby have been cast aside with a recent House of Commons year long inquiry into NHS maternity services.
In its report, the committee says that the assumption that giving birth in hospital is safest is unproved and that home births and other less medical options should be offered and encouraged in low risk women.
The committee advocated a shift to community based antenatal care. It urged the Department of Health to fund pilot schemes of maternity units managed by midwives similar to the system adopted by the Netherlands, where women are allocated to high or low risk categories early on in pregnancy and managed thereafter according to this initial assessment.
The report also says that midwives will be responsible for normal labours and that all general practices will have a duty to arrange for women to have birth at home, if they wish, attended by either a midwife or a GP, depending upon the woman’s choice.
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists remained wary of the proposals. They worried that risk is difficult to access early on in a pregnancy, and that women would not have a chance to meet their specialist if referred to hospital at the last minute.