A new study recommends that home births are promoted for women having their second or third baby, if they are at low risk of complications.

The Birthplace in England national prospective cohort study examined the outcomes of 64,000 births between 2008 and 2010 in various settings in England.

The reasons given for the recommendation are two-fold; not only are home births allegedly found to be safer in these circumstances, they are also estimated to be around £300 cheaper than a hospital delivery.

However the study also says that for first time mums or those at risk of complications, hospital delivery is still a safer option.

Statistically only 2.5% of women in England and Wales gave birth at home in 2010, according to the latest data from the Office of National Statistics. This was a slight drop on the previous year but a substantial decline since 1960 when one in three births were at home. .

The RCM responded by saying this research shows the need for a shift in the way maternity services are delivered.

Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said: "This and other research points out the substantial benefits of midwife led care; it is better for mothers and babies, it is better for midwives and it is better for the NHS.

"However, we are still seeing 96% of births taking place in hospitals and this underlines the need to make a fundamental change in the way we deliver maternity services in this country. The Government constantly tells us it wants more for less, and this is a shining example of how that can be delivered."

The full results of the survey are published on www.bmj.com

Posted by penny.hosie@pavpub.com