Yesterday I read an article that said all pregnant woman would be paid £3,000 for having a home birth. Is that not bribery? There are many things that I would consider doing with the promise of £3,000 being dangled in front of me like the proverbial carrot.
Don’t get me wrong I am all for home births and I think that it should be an option that a woman can choose. The key word in that last sentence being choose. Handing over £3,000 to a woman who has a homebirth doesn’t speak of choice to me, it sounds like shoving her down the path of homebirth with a hefty £3,000 push.
Apparently the funds are part of an overhaul of the maternity services which is designed to urge women to have their babies at home instead of a hospital. Why are they so keen? Well, a major review has called for hospitals to improve safety in maternity units to reduce the needless mistakes that happen. The report makes for scary reading as it blames the ‘mafia’ of midwives who fail to get Drs involved even when a labour is going tragically wrong. Also figures from the Care Quality Commission illustrate that
half of all maternity units still fail to meet basic safety requirements. 41% were deemed as requiring improvement whilst 7% were labeled as inadequate.
This makes for extremely worrying reading so what is the government doing about it? What it does best. It’s not looking into how this can be fixed and it’s not looking into any long term soloutions. No, instead it is throwing money at the problem it, hoping that it will go away. It appears that how they are going to deal with the issues of unsafe maternity units is to have more home births. Makes perfect sense. Not.
If lots of expectant Mums “buy” into this scheme then what will happen to the maternity units? Some smaller maternity units may have to close and that means less choice for any future Mums. Rural hospitals may also see their maternity units closing. This is hardly making a better midwifery service. It just seems another poorly disguised attempt for the government to save money in the long term and in the short term shut-up the problem. But this isn’t a problem that can be shut-up, nor should it be shut-up, after all we are talking about lives here.
The NHS watchdog NICE claims that homebirths are less dangerous than hospital births for second time Mums. I would like to know how they have worked this out. Critics have said that there is too little evidence to make comparisons. All I know is that if I had opted for a home birth then I may not be here today. You can read more about my experiences here
From next year the government will be launching pilots for the homebirth scheme and I will be very interested to see how this plays out. All I know is that I don’t agree with what Baroness Cumberlege said, in that it is “a driver for change, a driver for choice”. It’s not a choice when you are being bribed with £3,000 which any expectant Mother would find hard to turn down. I agree that our midwifery services need help and that they need support as they deal with an increasing population and older Mothers but I don’t agree that the way to do this is by forcing the issue of homebirths. The government isn’t supporting our midwives, they are burying them.
What do you think of the government’s plans?