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The Danger of Home Births and Current Advice

July 15, 2011

This short piece is a response, from a strategic viewpoint, to the article in The Times July 14 2001 edition.

Some in the health services are advocating a fundamental re-organisation of how childbirth is handled, and I though I’d stress a couple of key things about home birth vs hospital or maternity unit (close to hospital) birth.

One child lost in childbirth is one too many.  Fundamentally every life is unique and irreplaceable.  For this reason, management of childbirth must stay well clear of thinking based on statistical notions such as risk, no matter how slight the dependence.

Births at home are a bad idea in the modern world and the medics advocating it are listening too closely to the hospital economists who don’t care about the fact that serious complications can and do happen and if they happen in a home birth the baby will most likely be too far from the professional help they require and so will have a high likelihood of dying before help can arrive.  This is an unacceptable which should be eliminated as far as possible rather than managed: this means births in hospital (in the case of detected risk factors) and dedicated maternity units in other circumstances should be used.

Home births may save the NHS money and give a few superficial niceties to the mothers during birth, but it will come at the cost of a few babies’ lives, none of which will ever have been given the choice of whether to risk their lives for the sake of the NHS budget.  The mass uptake in home births as advocated by some people in positions of authority is a serious mistake and one which proper strategic management would suggest can and should be avoided as a matter of course.  Childbirth is a critical part of life that should be taken seriously and home births, other than as a last resort, do not cover the contingencies of complications sufficiently well to be advisable.

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