GP `blackmail' on home births

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The Independent Online
Women who want to have their babies at home are being blackmailed into hospital births by GPs who do not want the responsibility, according to a report published today.

Increasingly, women are reporting that they have been struck off their GP's register if they persist with plans to have their babies at home.

The National Childbirth Trust, the mother and baby support group, says that in only 17 out of 144 areas surveyed did GPs offer home birth with community midwives. "It is clear that some GPs are still threatening women," Mary Newburn, head of policy and research said.

The survey of members in NCT branches in Britain shows that in the majority of places - 95 areas - few GPs offered to care for women planning a home birth. Most sought to dissuade them. One mother was told she was risking her baby's life. Another was told a home birth would strain resources and other women would suffer.

Another woman reported: "My GP said I had to consider the rights of the unborn child, that I was putting myself and my baby at risk. The last woman who had a baby at home - 30 years ago - had bled to death and that was probably going to happen to me."

Dr John Noakes, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners' task force on maternity care, said: "We do not defend taking women off lists. It takes a long time to change attitudes. For years, policy has been to encourage hospital births.''

The college will produce a report on home births by the summer and has arranged a joint conference with the Royal College of Midwives in April.

Dear Mothers-to-be, page 17

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