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Reflections: A midwife's tale

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Cheryl Opimo-Fisher, homebirth midwife Cheryl Opimo-Fisher, homebirth midwife at Hillingdon Hospital

More than 800,000 babies are born in the UK every year but just 2.3% of these are home births, writes Cheryl Opimo-Fisher.

It is interesting to note some areas of the country have noticeably higher homebirth rates, such west Somerset and Bridgend, Wales, which both exceed 9%.

In Hillingdon we have seen a more modest increase from 0.2% -1.8% since the introduction of a dedicated team last September indicating women's interest in homebirth if greater choice and support is available.

The question is why homebirths aren't more popular when hospital deliveries are a relatively recent practice?

The main reason is probably clinician's practising defensively and trying to minimise risk and maximise safety, even when the risk is negligible.

If midwives are competent and confident, there is reliable transport and a back-up maternity hospital with good communication and an interdisciplinary teamwork, then homebirths are as safe as hospital births.

The recently released NICE guidelines - Intrapartum Care - recommended this, and received much media coverage.

One of the challenges of being a homebirth midwife is sometimes having to mediate between obstetricians and mums-to-be.

The majority of clinicians prefer women to give birth in the controlled environment of a labour ward, whereas some women prefer the comfort of their own homes.


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Comments

I spent 6 months doing home births in Hillingdon in 1969 while doing Part 2 Midwifery training. I used a bicycle to get to patients homes. It was great experience and a very happy time. Only once did we have to transfer a mother to hospital because there were no foetal movements or heart beat when I arrived at the house.
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