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Dutch abandon home birth system similar to NZ

7/8/11 Media Release:

Action to Improve Maternity (AIM)


Recent reports in the Netherlands media indicate that in the last 10 years, the percentage of Dutch women who are giving birth in hospitals has risen from 37% to 75% of all births. More facilities are now having to be built in order to keep up with the explosion in demand for hospital based maternity care.

Reasons given for this trend are:

• concern at the disproportionally high baby death rate in home birth Situations

• the rising popularity of epidurals, a pain relief option in labour which is only available in hospitals.

For many years prior to this trend, the Dutch system of home births has been promoted as one which other countries should emulate, including New Zealand. However, last year a large study on a part of the Dutch maternity system published in the British Medical Journal found that the baby (‘perinatal’) death rate of infants born around their due date was greater in a low risk group cared for by midwives than in a higher risk group cared for by obstetricians. The researchers concluded that the Dutch system of risk selection in relation to perinatal death at term is not as effective as was once thought – and they have far superior safety nets and recording systems in place currently than we do. Minister Ryall might have something to learn from this view, just as the Dutch public have now clearly worked out for themselves.

AIM is a Registered Charitable Trust comprised of around 500 families plus a substantial supportive network of other concerned stakeholders who believe that the current NZ maternity system needs improvement. More information is on the website

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