The UK Department of Health will encourage women to give birth to their babies at home if they feel comfortable with that option. It said that it wanted to dispel myths that a hospital was the best place to bring a baby into the world.
Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has already taken the first step by asking for a commission to probe how births can be made comfortable at home. 'We are committed to offering all women the choice of how and where they give birth, and what pain relief is available,' a Department of Health spokesperson said.'The government underlined its commitment to delivering choice in maternity services in its 2005 manifesto, the National Service Framework for children and maternity and the recent White Paper Our Health, Our Care, Our Say.'
The National Childbirth Trust has lauded this move saying that till date doctors had never encouraged women to give birth at home. But women having some complications in their pregnancy like high blood pressure are still encouraged to give birth at hospitals only.
Belinda Phipps, NCT chief executive alleged that false research had resulted in the perception that a home was not the safest place to give birth in. 'It has taken 30 years for the government to realize that the policy of pushing every woman giving birth into hospital was misguided. It would be lovely to see it reversed,' she said.
Dame Karlene Davis, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives was also pleased with the move, 'This will benefit the majority of women, who are able to have a normal birth, but at present are denied the choice mainly because of ongoing staff shortages,' she said.