Wales Tops Home Birth Statistics

More women in Wales are choosing to give birth at home than those in any other part of the UK, new figures show. The Office of National Statistics shows there is a rise across the whole of the UK for women opting for home births but Welsh women are pushing the trend.

In 2005, 17,279 of all births in the UK took place at home compared with 15,198 in 2004, a rise of 13.7% – in Wales they rose 18.9% during that period.

The National Childbirth Trust said Wales was “leading the way”. The Welsh figure of 18.9% is up from 16.2% the previous year and shows that Wales now has a home birth rate of 3.61% – the fastest growing rate in the UK. Scotland has the second highest rise in the number of home births with an increase of 14.6%.

But England has a below-UK-average rise of 13.4% between 2004-2005, bringing its home birth rate up to 2.53%. In contrast, the number of home births in Northern Ireland decreased by 12.9%, resulting in a home birth rate of just 0.33%.

Mary Newburn, Head of Policy at the National Childbirth Trust, (NCT) said: “Wales is now leading the way in provision of home birth services and choice for women. It would be fantastic if England could emulate this success, but the evidence suggests this will only happen if there is a commitment to a specific health service target to increase the home birth rate.”

She said more needed to be done to enable women to give birth in their own homes. “Currently women in many areas of the UK still find it difficult to choose a home birth,” she said. “There is not enough balanced information available to enable them to make an informed choice about where to have their baby, and the shortage of midwives means that too often the option of a home birth is either not being offered or services end up being withdrawn at short notice.”

Carrie Hinchey, 25, from Pendine, Carmarthenshire chose to deliver her second child at home. “There were a couple of reasons why I decided to have my son Iestyn at home,” she explained. “The first reason was because when I had my daughter Niamh, the journey to hospital was horrendous. They tell you not to rush in because it can take hours and maybe I left it a bit late but the journey was agony.

“It was only around a 20 minute trip but I couldn’t move and that is all I wanted to do. The other reason for having him at home was because people had said how wonderful it was. I had a good rapport with my midwife and everyone was encouraging. It was a much better experience without a doubt. It was really lovely to be at home and I would definitely consider it again,” she added.