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"Homebirths need Medical support" says College

15 May 2006

“Homebirths need Medical support” says College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists

Following the recent article on “Give Birth at home – Britain to urge Mothers to be” by Marie Woolf and Sophie Goodchild, with follow up from NZ Herald Health reporter Martin Johnson, the College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists takes issue with the comments that suggest all deliveries at home are safe and that medicine or doctors are not needed in maternity.

“The comments made by the Secretary of State for Health in England are ludicrous and dangerous. They are commissioning research to support the case for homebirths and yet have told doctors to offer homebirth as an option. Research is not meant to support a prior view rather it is supposed to seek evidence to support practice that is safe for women and their babies”, says Dr Alec Ekeroma.

It is important that the public are aware that there are women that are safe to deliver at home and that there are women that must deliver in hospitals. There are no published figures for homebirths in New Zealand, therefore the percentage of homebirths and outcomes are not known. It is also important to remember that about 30% of women deemed low risk in pregnancy becomes high risk in labour and delivery.

“Screening of mothers who prefer to deliver at home or in birthing units is important to identify and reassure those that can safely do so. Just as important is the support provided to midwives performing home deliveries so that specialist advice is readily available and immediate and safe transfers of women to hospitals for those with impending complications”, say Dr Ekeroma.

New Zealand has some of the best standards of maternity care and statistics in the world and one must be wary of major swings in health policy dictated largely by fiscal problems as they have in England.

“It is important that Obstetricians and Midwives work collaboratively to deliver a quality maternity service for mothers and their babies across New Zealand, whether they birth at home, birthing units or in hospitals. Removing the medical expertise that supports good outcomes would be detrimental to maternity care in New Zealand,” says Dr Ekeroma


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