Hundreds opt for home births in Sussex

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A hospital trust has one of the best home birth rates in the country – with the community team assisting more than 230 women last year.

More than 9 per cent of women living in the Royal Sussex County Hospital area gave birth at home, which is almost four times the national rate of 2.3 per cent.

The rate for those living in the Princess Royal Hospital in Haywards Heath area was also better than the rest of the country at 2.8 per cent, giving Brighton and Sussex University Hospital NHS Trust an overall home birth rate of 6.4 per cent.

Marion Wilyman, community midwifery manager who has worked for the Trust for 27 years, said: “This is great news for all low risk women who receive their care at BSUH.

“I am extremely proud of the community midwives as without their commitment and expertise this would not be possible.

“We currently employ 78 community midwives, 12 maternity support workers and three team leaders who manage to cover an area of approximately 500 square miles. In the future the plan is to provide more women with a choice to deliver at home or in a midwifery led unit.”

Nationally the rate of home births has remained the same in the last few years at just over 2 per cent.

In 1960, the percentage of women giving birth at home was 33 per cent, but this fell to a record low between 1985 and 1988 when only 0.9 per cent of women gave birth at home.

Research shows that giving birth in a midwife led unit or at home is generally safe for women who are experiencing a normal pregnancy or those who have given birth before.

There are robust systems in place to transfer mothers and babies quickly and safely to an obstetric unit if necessary and it is important that expectant mums discuss a plan of care with her midwife before the birth.

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