Letter: Childbirth: heaven at home and hell at the hospital, or vice versa?

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Sir: Like Maggie Brown, I have given birth to four children over the last decade. There the similarity ends.

All my children have been born at home because I wished to avoid the intervention and apparatus that Ms Brown finds so comforting. Prior to the birth of my first child, as a student midwife in a large London teaching hospital, I had the opportunity to witness at first hand the application of such machinery and the standard of care offered. This contrasted drastically with the skill of community midwives attending women at home. There was no comparison, especially in terms of safety and the mothers' comfort. I made my choice.

There are so many ill-informed points included in her article that I would encourage Ms Brown to read Safer Childbirth by the statistician Marjorie Tew, who investigated the history behind modern obstetrics and exploded the long-held myth that hospital birth is safer than home birth. She may also be interested in recent research concerning continuous electronic foetal heart monitoring, which failed to demonstrate any benefit to mother or baby and increased the rate of Caesarian section.

Her view of birth as a form of torture, and her interpretation of womens' opinions as expressed in the Expert Maternity Group report, differ from mine. When 22 per cent of women say that they want to have their baby at home, I believe them.

Yours faithfully,

JAN HOLDEN

Birch, Essex

6 August

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