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RCM warns of home births backlash

Researchers and media organisations are "collaborating" in pushing the myth that home births are unsafe, according to the Royal College of Midwives.

It said scientists around the world also try to push the idea that hospital births are completely safe.

RCM General Secretary, Cathy Warwick, said this amounts to a "calculated and concerted backlash" against home births, adding that some doctors too often automatically refer women for a hospital delivery.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, she said several studies have purposely misled people about the relative safety of home and hospital births.

"We are referring mainly to researchers from across the world who seem to be collaborating with the media, publishing studies which suggest home birth is not safe and give the impression that hospital birth, on the other hand, is completely safe," she said.

"We believe people are comparing apples with pears. You cannot compare home birth globally and reach scientific conclusions.

"Midwives in the UK are highly trained, highly competent and able to relate to obstetricians, who actually support home birth in the UK."

She said only 2.4% of women in the UK gave birth at home, and added: "The reason that most women need to transfer into hospital, having chosen to have a home birth, is because of complications which are not emergencies, and they are able to transfer to hospital safely and efficiently."

Ms Warwick said it was important that the right women were selected for home birth but, asked if doctors were too keen automatically to refer women for a hospital delivery, she replied: "I think some doctors are too prone to do that. There are a few doctors who just seem to be unprepared to accept the evidence."

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Royal College of Midwives