The study cannot prove with absolute certainty that there
are no differences in safety between the settings but, overall,
the study found that proportions of babies with an adverse
outcome were similar in births planned in midwifery units
(AMUs and FMUs) compared with births planned in obstetric
units. For women who did not have complications when they
presented for care in labour, outcomes were almost identical
in births planned in midwifery units and obstetric units
(3.1 adverse perinatal outcomes per 1000 births for births
planned in an obstetric unit compared with 3.2 per 1000 births
in freestanding midwifery units and 3.4 per 1000 births in
alongside midwifery units). Midwifery units were also safe
for the mother, and women who planned birth in a midwifery
unit were significantly more likely to have a ‘normal birth’
without medical interventions, and were less likely to have
their baby delivered by caesarean section, forceps or ventouse.
For example, more than three quarters of all women in the
planned home and midwifery unit groups had a ‘normal birth’
without medical interventions, compared with 58% of women
in the obstetric unit group.
Source: Birthplace in England Programme - Background Q&A.