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Home births encouraged by drugs watchdog

More babies could be born outside of hospitals according the new NHS guidelines.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has claimed that home births and midwife led centres are often as safe for babies and could be better for their mothers in low-risk pregnancies.

The guidelines state that 45% of women may be better off giving birth outside of traditional obstetric unit and that women should be offered a range of choices including a home birth.

Susan Bewley, professor of complex obstetrics at King's College London and part of the team that developed the guidelines, said: "Midwifery-led settings have better outcomes for mothers than the traditional obstetric units and labour wards.”

However, she stressed the emphasis was on choice. "There isn't a one-size-fits-all model for all women.”

“That's why a range of settings providing different support for women with different needs gives you better safety overall," she added.

Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, told the BBC News website that she welcomed the guidelines.

She said: "The evidence shows that if women don't have any complications in their pregnancies they'll have better outcomes if they are able to make these choices.”

But Lucy Jolin of the Birth Trauma Association told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it was not always safe for women to give birth outside hospital.

She said: "Things can go wrong very easily and we do feel this advice could be dangerous."