Birth charity says the NHS is right to encourage home births


Jill Craven with daughter Ella after her home birth

By Sarah Hunter-Argyle

Edinburgh charity the Birth Resource Centre told Dunedin Napier News it believes NHS plans to encourage home birth in the Lothians are a good idea.

As birth rates rise the new Maternity Services Strategy is an attempt to double the number of home births annually, partly to ease the pressure on hospitals.

Jo Harknett, Coordinator at the Birth Rescource Centre, said: “We absolutely believe that informing, encouraging and supporting women and their partners to explore options for where they birth their babies is a good thing. If this is done positively and proactively then it is very likely that more women will choose to birth at home.”

According to BirthChoice UK figures the Scottish home birth rate for 2007 was 1.5%. In the Lothians the number of home births varies, East Lothian has the highest rate at 5% of births while in West Lothian the number is just over 1%.

Jill Craven, 28, had a home birth in East Lothian in 2007. For her it was a fantastic experience and now pregnant again, she wouldn’t consider doing it any other way.

She told Dunedin Napier News: “I’m a real a home birth fanatic now… We are lucky in the Lothians, that home birth is so well respected and we have excellent pro home birth supportive community midwives.”

Part of the strategy is to encourage mothers living furthest away from St Johns and the ERI to give birth at home.

Jill lives about half an hour away from her nearest hospital but the distance didn’t concern her during labour.

She says: “I think if you are the type of person to have these worries, maybe home birth isn’t for you…If there has been a hospital transfer during labour, then all the cases I know of have had the eventual happy outcome of a healthy mother and baby – distance hasn’t really been an issue for any of these as wherever you live in the Lothians, you are a maximum one hour away, in most cases less, from a hospital.”