Letter: A home birth can end up in hospital, but it is worth the risk

KATE DE Selincourt is one of a large number of first-time mothers intending to have a home birth who need to be transferred to hospital ("Nature in the raw", Real Life, 7 June). A study in 1994 put the figure at around 40 per cent.

I have been as guilty as any of extolling the virtues of home birth while minimising the risk of transfer during labour and I apologise. This is partly because information about intended place of delivery is not gathered routinely. This seems an extraordinary oversight given the strength of opinion on both sides of the debate and the cost of providing hospital care for all women.

I think I would still choose a home birth for my first baby but I would need reassurance that if I needed more help I would receive a warm welcome at my local hospital, not be labelled a failed home birth and treated like a naughty child.

We can at least be encouraged that safety is no longer an issue. Mothers and babies are no more likely to die after a planned home birth than after a planned hospital birth.

Margaret Jowitt,

Editor `Midwifery Matters', Craven Arms, Shrops