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Birthplace Study

Birthplace is a programme of research designed to compare outcomes for births in different settings for healthy women with a straightforward pregnancy. The results have been analysed according to where the birth was planned at the start of labour care.

The Birthplace in England Research Programme

The NPEU website has links to the article published in the BMJ, the study reports and other related documents including a short Q&A document summarising the key findings which midwives and others in contact with pregnant women may find useful.  A number of studies have been carried out alongside the Birthplace in England Research Programme using data collected as part of Birthplace or collecting further data. One of these adjunct studies is called Transfer from midwifery unit to obstetric unit during labour by Rachel Rowe and a summary is available here.

Mary Newburn reports on the findings and implications of the Birthplace Study for parents and the maternity services.

News, updates and other information are available on Twitter @BirthplaceStudy

See also NCT's campaign for choice of place of birth Location, location, location and the Place of birth page.

The Birthplace in England Research Programme – what have we learned?

Giving birth is generally very safe for healthy women with a
straightforward(‘low-risk’) pregnancy.
‘Adverse outcomes’ for babies
are rare regardless of where mothers plan to give birth, occurring
overall,
in just 4 to 5 births in every 1000. These adverse outcomes are serious,
or potentially
serious events, but thankfully they are rare.

NCT has produced its own Q&A briefing on place of birth for NCT practitioners and parents wanting detailed information and a policy briefing on midwife-led units, community midwifery units and birth centres

This Q&A from the NCT should be read in conjunction with the Birthplace Research Programme - Background Q&A

Boxed statements in bold are direct quotes from the Birthplace Programme reports.

Click on each question to see the response

What did the Birthplace research programme set out to do?
What are the main results of the study?
Are planned midwifery unit births as safe as births planned for a hospital obstetric unit?
What is most useful for expectant parents about this study?
Do the results apply to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as England?
Why should women consider planning birth away from the hospital labour ward?
Are there risks associated with home birth compared with planning for a hospital birth?
What is meant by an 'adverse outcome'?
Where should women book if they want the safest place to have their baby?
Where should women book if they want fewest interventions?
How do women know in advance whether they will want an epidural?
Where can women get the midwifery support they need?
Did Birthplace compare safety and adverse outcomes for mothers as well as for babies?
Did Birthplace compare positive outcomes for mothers and babies?
How many women plan to give birth in each of the different settings?
What other things do women need to think about to help them decide?
Do outcomes vary depending on the size of maternity unit or midwifery staffing levels?
Don't women having a hospital birth have more interventions because they need them?
How do the costs compare in different NHS settings?
Will this change NCT's policy on choice of place of birth?