A friend who is electing for a home birth has written up some good blog posts here and here. I was writing a comment to post there but then realized it was so long I should just write a post of my own discussing the statistics in my local area here in England.
These 2007/08 statistics are for all women under their pre-natal care of the hospital trust. (Since this is social medicine this represents virtually all women in our geographic area, except for the small percentage who pay for private care.)
At the hospital:
Home delivery 4.2%
Home delivery is presented as an option from the very start of the pregnancy and (like any delivery) there is no cost to the family. One of my friends here elected for this route, but unfortunately had to transfer to the hospital as the baby would not come down and eventually had to be turned with forceps. The midwives tried many different methods of encouraging the baby down, but alas he just wouldn’t cooperate.
The report states ‘the majority of nulliparae (first time mothers) who have an epidural do not have a spontaneous vaginal delivery.’ (meaning they go on to have a caesarean or forceps/ventouse delivery)
In the SAME hospital there is a midwife led unit (just the floor above L&D). The Casesarean rate of women who begin their labor under the care of the midwives is just 5%!
This is due to a number of factors. 1.) The overall different approach that the midwives take to help labor progress naturally. 2.) Self selection in that women who strongly desire a natural birth are more likely to select the midwife ward. 3.) The midwife ward handles only uncomplicated pregnancies where there are no known risk factors particular to the pregnancy.
Interesting numbers to consider. As for myself, I had my labor at a small, community midwife unit but ended up with ventouse assistance at the hospital. I’m hoping that Simon’s big noggin got everything all loosened up and #2 will just slide right out. :-)