Letter: Home births

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I am writing from the post-natal ward, where my wife and first child (who was born 12 hours ago) are sleeping beside me. I have just read your two articles debating the merits of hospital births. The issues appear to centre on the superior emergency back-up available in hospital versus the intimacy of home births.

My wife is a GP and aware of the dangers of childbirth. For our first child there was never any question that we would want the best possible clinical care available in the event of complications.

Complications can be caused when mothers are encouraged to labour without pain relief for too long and, through mental and physical exhaustion, have difficulty in pushing the baby out. There is no evidence that suffering in this way leads to a healthier child or stronger mother-baby bonding.

My wife had an epidural after two hours of very painful and distressing contractions. Thereafter the whole experience was happy and almost stress- free. The doctors and midwives were excellent.

Clearly, everyone should be able to make their own informed decisions. What appears to be missing is information. What proportion of home births go wrong? What is the level of satisfaction amongst hospital-delivered mothers?

NICK MARTIN

London SW11

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