NCT and the Independent Midwives' Association (IMA) voice concern over
actions of ACOG on home birth
NCT and the Independent Midwives' Association (IMA) today voiced concern
at the recent actions of the American College of Obstetricians and
Gynaecologists (ACOG), that seek to undermine and threaten American
women's opportunities to give birth at home.
The NCT and IMA call on the ACOG to reconsider their position as a
matter of urgency. Following the example of its international
counterparts it should consider all available evidence on the benefits
and risks of home birth. Women in America should have access to home
birth rather than being limited simply to the medicalised model of birth
available in US hospitals.
In February this year the ACOG reiterated its long-standing opposition
to home births. More recently, the ACOG, introduced a resolution to the
American Medical Association (AMA) at their annual meeting. The
resolution commits the AMA to "develop model legislation in support of
the concept that the safest setting for labor, delivery, and the
immediate post-partum period is in the hospital...".
NCT and IMA are members of the Maternity Care Working Party (MCWP),
which advises members of the United Kingdom Parliament on maternity care
Counted among the membership of the MCWP, are the Royal College of
Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), the UK equivalent of the ACOG,
as well as the Royal College of Midwives. These two organisations
issued a joint statement in April 2007 on home births which states:
"There is no reason why home birth should not be offered to women at low
risk of complications and it may confer considerable benefits for them
and their families. There is ample evidence showing that labouring at
home increases a woman's likelihood of a birth that is both satisfying
and safe, with implications for her health and that of her baby." (Royal
College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists/Royal College of Midwives
Joint statement No.2, April 2007)
NCT and IMA also believe that all women should have access to a home
birth and up-to-date evidence-based information that addresses their
questions, so they can make the right choice for them.
Home birth should be considered a mainstream option and offered as a
regular choice for pregnant women using the health service, whichever
country they reside in. For a healthy woman with a straightforward,
low-risk pregnancy, home birth is a safe option. It is important that
midwives provide care for women at home and that they have experience in
home birth, receive active support and supervision, and that their
training needs are met. Women's individual needs must be assessed and
the back up of a modern hospital system, with good communication and
transport links, are important, should transfer be needed.
The views of the NCT and IMA are supported by UK Government policy which
seeks to reduce unnecessary interventions in childbirth and increase the
numbers of women who experience a normal birth.
In England for example, the Government explicitly wants every woman to
have opportunities to make well informed decisions about their care
throughout pregnancy, birth and postnatally by the end of 2009. This
includes a guaranteed choice of place of birth. Depending on
circumstances three options will be available:
- home birth
- birth in a local midwife-led unit
- birth in a hospital supported by midwives, anaesthetists and consultant
The opportunity for home births is increasing in the UK, albeit slowly.
In 2006, 39% of women indicated that this had been discussed as an
option at the start of their pregnancy, compared to 18% in 1995. The
home birth rate for the UK as a whole currently stands at 2.6%, but in
some areas this rate is higher than 10%. In Wales in particular, where
the Government has set a target for home birth at 10%, the rate is
higher than in other parts of the UK.
For further press information contact the NCT press office on 020 8752
2004 (out of hours 07722 839 428) or email:
The NCT has ISDN line on 020 8992 6499 - call press office to book
Notes to Editors
* The NCT is the UK's leading charity on pregnancy, birth and
early parenthood. Every year the charity supports thousands of parents
through an incredible life-changing experience, offering relevant
information and mutual support through our network of over 300 local
branches, UK wide helplines, antenatal and early days courses,
breastfeeding counselling and peer support schemes.
* Operating for over 50 years, the NCT is recognised as the voice
of pregnant women and new parents throughout the UK. The charity works
continuously for improvements to maternity care and better services and
facilities for new parents. We are viewed by many as independent experts
in matters relating to pregnancy, birth and early parenthood and are an
influential and trusted advisor to UK governments, royal colleges,
private sector bodies and other charities. www.nct.org.uk
* The Independent Midwives Association (IMA) was founded in 1985
to disseminate information about, and support for, independent midwives,
and to lobby for the traditional role of the midwife.
* Independent Midwives have been forced to practice without
professional indemnity insurance (PII) since 2002 when the last
commercial insurance product was withdrawn from the market. Insurance is
unavailable due to the small number of Independent Midwives and the
potential for very high claims, even though there have been no cases of
significant awards against Independent Midwives in the UK since 1994.
All Independent Midwives explain the situation clearly to clients to
ensure they understand that they will not have significant recourse in
the event of a negligence claim.
* The Maternity Care Working Party (MCWP) acts as an expert
advisory body to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Maternity.
MCWP is an independent, multi-disciplinary body that campaigns for
improvements in maternity care. It was formed to raise awareness of the
public health implications of the rising caesarean rate and highlights
the health and social needs of women and their families and the
contribution that woman-centred maternity services can make to the
promotion of public health.
Media Relations Manager
020 8752 2404