Emergency calls spoil dreams of home birth
UP TO one in five pregnant women who opts for a home birth has to be rushed to hospital as a result of potentially life-threatening complications.
New figures reveal that the dream of a “natural birth” for some ends with a 999 call as a result of breech births, abnormal baby heart rate, high blood pressure and the need for an emergency caesarean section.
Experts said expectant mothers who opted for home birth needed to be given more information about the potential risks.
Scotland’s health boards were asked to give details of the number of home births in their area and how many had to be hospitalised during labour.
NHS Lothian revealed that of the 249 who opted for a home birth last year, 46 were rushed into hospital during labour. Ayrshire and Arran said of 27 planned home births in 2011, six ended in hospital.
Greater Glasgow and Clyde said nine out of 63 home births – one in seven – ended with an emergency call.
Other health boards refused to reveal their figures, claiming it might lead to identification of the women involved.
Some home births were ended at the request of the mother who wanted to be transferred to hospital to receive better pain relief.
Gillian Smith, director of Royal College of Midwives in Scotland, said women should not be put off home births but should be made aware of the risks.
She said: “There are certain risk factors, but they are on an individual basis. For mothers it could be high blood pressure, bleeding, or failure for labour to progress.”
She added: “It is up to women to look at the information from the freedom of information request, consider it, and then make their own decision.”
Dr Amy Tuteur, an obstetrician, who writes the anti-home birthing Skeptical Ob blog, claims first-time mothers had a 40 per cent chance of being transferred to hospital following a failed home birth.
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