Call me a geek, but I just love some statistics to help me prove a point.
On one of the pregnancy and baby forums I use, there have recently been a few homebirth related threads and I have noticed a lot of fear about not having immediate access to doctors and theatre. A lot of this appears to be influenced by prior birth experiences or experiences of others around them, but it’s very sad.
I may be naive, I’ve never had a baby before so realistically I have no idea how I’ll cope with labour – maybe I’ll be begging to go to hospital for an epidural (although I sincerely hope not, as there are so many negatives to them!) but until I get to that point, I don’t really get the negativity that surrounds homebirth by the vast majority of the general public. I even saw one lady state that she thought homebirth was selfish because it ‘took midwives away from the hospital.’ This shows a general lack of knowledge as the community midwives who attend homebirths – certainly in my area – don’t work at the hospital anyway. If they weren’t attending one of their community patients, they’d be tucked up asleep in bed or doing a normal shift in the community!
Whilst doing my research, I came across the Birth Choice UK website, which is full of lovely statistics. Sadly, caesarian section, instrumental deliveries and inductions rates just keep increases year on year, with the resultant unassisted delivery (which still includes epidurals and other intervention) reaching a shocking rate of just 45.5% pregnancies in England in 2012. In 2011, homebirth rate in England was 2.36% but this seems to vary hugely across the country (from less than 0.4% up to 9%!) My local area is pushing 5% which is reassuring in itself.
Looking more regionally, the website allows you to look at induction, c-section, instrumental and normal birth rates at each health care setting which I found fascinating (and a little worrying). In my area, my local hospital (where it would be assumed I would birth, if I wasn’t aiming for homebirth) has the highest induction level (7.6% higher than the national average), an average c-section rate (1.8% lower than national average), average instrumental (1.2% lower) and almost exactly the national average of normal birth (at just 41.7%). Compare this with the only exclusively midwife-led unit in the area (over 96% normal birth) and it makes you think a bit.
I can’t wait to try homebirthing and know it’s right for us, but it isn’t right for everyone.