A new research finding suggests that giving birth at home is a safer and cheaper alternative for the NHS when accommodating pregnant women who already have children.
Oxford University researchers have observed 64,000 births in the UK between 2008 and 2010 and found that women with fewer complications can either give birth at home or in a midwifery unit and save hospitalisation expenses.The study observed births in obstetric units, midwifery units located in the same hospital as an obstetric unit, free-standing midwifery units and at home.
It assessed NHS costs associated with the birth, including care during labour, the cost of any stay in hospital, the cost of pain relief and any medical procedures needed in the case of complications.
In planned home and midwifery unit births, the research considered the cost of any clinical intervention needed if mothers and babies were transferred to hospital, but excluded any longer-term costs such as care for babies who suffer any crisis during birth.
The research observed the relative costs of healthy births in different conditions. The finding was that the most expensive option for mothers who already have children is a planned birth in an obstetric unit, with an average cost of £1,142 per woman, whereas a planned birth at home was cheapest at £780.
The findings also suggested that for women who are giving birth for the first time, a planned birth at midwifery unit would be cheaper than in an obstetric unit. Also, a planned birth at home for such women although cheaper but involved risks of the baby’s health.
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