In UK there is an increase in the number of babies born in the house. Office of National Statistics (ONS) data showed there were 15,198 home births in 2004. The group BirthChoiceUK.com said Merseyside and Northumbria had the lowest rates of home birth, and Devon had the highest. The National Childbirth Trust said that women could not have a home birth. Even doctors are reluctant to advise women to opt for a home birth if they are likely to need hospital care for epidural pain relief or a Caesarean section. Wales saw the biggest increase, with 3.06% of births taking place at home in 2004.
In Scotland, the rate went up from 1.03% to 1.12%, in Northern Ireland the increase was from 0.34% to 0.38% and in England, the rate went from 2.18% in 2003 to 2.25%. Miranda Dodwell, of BirthChoiceUK, said that birth statistics should be available to the public so they can see how services vary from one area to another.
The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) said that there is lack of information and shortage of midwives which steers women towards hospitals where epidurals and other medical interventions are readily available. Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt set a target for England on the number of births at home. Mary Newburn, head of policy research at the NCT, said that the increase in home births is a move in the right direction. Wales' specific target to increase the home birth rate to 10% by 2007 is providing a clear incentive to prioritise extending the choice of place of birth. Due to this there is an increase in midwives and midwifery students now, compared to 1997.