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Number of home births on the rise

The number of women giving birth at home has risen, according to latest figures.

A report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that 18,100 births in England and Wales took place at home in 2006, accounting for 2.7% of all those recorded.

It continues the rising trend that has seen the proportion of home maternities rise from an all-time low of 0.9% in 1988.

Wider public awareness and greater government investment in home births have been suggested as reasons for the increase.

Gail Johnson of the Royal College of Midwives said: "I think that promoting normal births has been in the public eye more and I think there's been a lot of discussion in the media about women being offered a choice.

"There's some strategic thinking by the government that recognises that we need to provide the choice. Because birth is a normal physiological event and it's a family event it makes sense to stay at home with your family and be comfortable."

A Department of Health spokesperson said the government's Maternity Matters scheme had helped to improve choice and "normalise childbirth".

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Royal College of Midwives