NCT response: New national statistics on home birth

Released on: 10 November 2011


New national statistics were released by the Office of National Statistics today, in particular the numbers of women giving birth at home and women having multiple births.

In England 16,919 women (2.5%) had a home birth in 2010, out of 679,638 births, down from 2.7% of home births in 2009. Wales has the highest proportion of women having home births, 1,236 (3.5%) out of 35,617 births, a decrease over the previous year.

In Scotland, 824 women (1.4%) had a home birth, from 59,082 births. Provisional figures from Northern Ireland, suggest that about 0.4% of women had home births.

Elizabeth Duff, Senior Policy Adviser for NCT, the UK's largest charity for parents, said:

“It is disappointing to see this further reduction in the number of women giving birth at home in England, as we know that up to 11% of pregnant women plan and hope for a home birth. The benefits of one-to-one care from a known and trusted midwife, no travelling in labour and the chance to give birth in a private, relaxing, family environment make home birth an attractive choice for many women.

“Numbers of home births had been increasing up until a decrease in 2009, with a clear policy from government that all women should be offered this choice. NCT has commended the coalition government’s support of choice and control for services users and urges policy-makers to set out a detailed plan for maternity care which honours this pledge.

“It is also disappointing to see the first decrease in home births in Wales following their successful policy directive towards increasing such births. The Welsh government’s new strategic vision for maternity demonstrates their commitment to this option for women and we look forward to a reverse of the decline in the future.

“NCT believes home birth should be offered as a mainstream choice for all women who want it, alongside options to book for care at a birth centre and at a hospital maternity unit. NCT calls on every NHS Trust and Board to ensure that choice of place of birth is available to all women. With many maternity services overstretched, we need to see sufficient numbers of midwives to offer home birth as a realistic choice for families.”

Notes to Editors

New data provided by the Office of National Statistics, The General Register Office for Scotland and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. Statistics analysed by BirthChoiceUK.

BirthChoiceUK is an independent voluntary organisation dedicated to helping women choose where to have their baby through information provided by way of a website.

NCT is the UK’s largest charity for parents. Each year the charity supports hundreds of  thousands of parents through a life-changing experience, offering expert information and trusted practical and emotional support through the website, the nationwide network of 300 local branches, free helplines, antenatal and postnatal courses, breastfeeding counselling and peer support schemes.