Just 2.5% of births take place at home, but a National Childbirth Trust survey found 43% of women would consider one.
The reason most women don't even consider giving birth at home is because they simply don't have enough information about it.
If you are thinking about having your baby at home, the following might help you decide in favour:
- You're having a straightforward pregnancy without known complications.
- Giving birth naturally in the privacy of your own home appeals to you.
- You would ideally like to avoid medical intervention such as an epidural.
- You have other children to care for and want to have your partner with you 24/7.
- You live close to the hospital in case a last-minute transfer is necessary.
- You have a practical and unflappable birth partner.
If you are interested in having a home birth, discuss it with your midwife or GP, a community midwife or the midwife supervisor at your local hospital early on in your pregnancy.
Remember, not all GPs are keen advocates of home birth, so be prepared to ask around for more support if necessary.
Consultant obstetrician Rick Porter of the Wiltshire Healthcare NHS Trust explains that giving birth at home is a safer option than many people think.
'The things that go wrong in the majority of cases, particularly with first babies, do so slowly or with plenty of warning, so you have time to make a transfer to hospital if need be.'
Emergencies are rare and your midwife can usually detect any need for potential medical intervention in plenty of time to transfer to hospital if necessary.
Possible reasons include the heart rate dipping, or meconium (the baby's first bowel movement) found in the waters - a sign of foetal distress.
In rare cases you may need to be transferred to hospital if you've retained the placenta, have heavy blood loss or the baby needs observation.
For more advice, visit www.homebirth.org.uk