Are home births safer than hospital?

Maternity care in this country has developed considerably over the past fifty years. Along with improvements in ante-natal care, pain management and medical interventions, incidences of babies and women dying during or after labour are now, thankfully, an exceedingly rare occurrence in today’s society. Sadly, mistakes do sometimes occur – often as a result of those interventions – and the consequences can be extremely distressing, sometimes tragic.


With health professionals expressing concern over a shortage of midwives and hospital beds, long waiting times for ambulances and Accident & Emergency departments at breaking point, the safety and care of mothers and babies is of paramount importance.


New NHS Guidelines encourage home births for low risk mothers


Currently, 90% of births in England and Wales take place in hospital.

However, recent new guidelines from NICE (the National Institute of Clinical Excellence) have suggested that giving birth at home or in a midwife-led centre may be better for up to 45% of mothers. This refers to women who have already given birth previously and without complications.


Key factors that have influenced the guidance include the following:


  • Mothers giving birth in hospital are more likely to have a medical intervention – such as an episiotomy, forceps delivery or Caesarean section – than women who give birth at home or in a midwife-led unit and have already had at least one child.


  • A planned home birth also costs less – around two-thirds as much as giving birth in an obstetric unit.


What are the risks of a home birth?


There is always a possibility that complications can arise for both baby and mother during labour and delivery, regardless of whether the baby is delivered at home or in hospital. These complications include injury, stillbirth and even death. For the 45%, in the low risk category, their risks are the same whether they have a home birth or hospital birth.


However, the risks of a serious medical problem arising are greater for first-time mothers.


Factors that increase the risks of complications:

  • Age of mother 35+
  • Anaemia
  • Foetal abnormalities
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure


Specialist medical negligence Solicitor Tami Frankel says, “Wherever a woman gives birth, a key consideration must be whether she will be able to have access to the necessary expertise and treatment if a problem arises.

“We see families who have been devastated by problems that have happened during their child’s birth. People need to be given comprehensive, up-to-date information on what is available to them – not only regarding where they can have their babies but also on what will happen if there is an emergency.”


We have extensive experience in handling birth injury claims. If you, or your child, have been injured because of inadequate care or negligence by a doctor, midwife or other health professional, you may have a claim for compensation.

Please contact us on 0800 321 3112 and speak to one of our medically qualified advisers or email us here to make an enquiry.


See here for a selection of our case studies concerning birth injury claims.



Posted 13th February 2015 | Posted in News,Uncategorised