A large study published in 2011 compared death and injury rates for the babies of 64,538 low risk women giving birth in a variety of settings in England between April 2008 and April 2010.
The women planned births either at home or in midwifery-led birth units (like Penrice / Helston) or in consultant-led hospitals (like Treliske).
- Birth was found to be very safe with over 99% of babies having good outcomes wherever their mothers planned to give birth
- For women not expecting their first baby, there was no difference in outcomes wherever they planned to give birth
- For first time mothers, births planned at hospital were safe for babies 99.57% of the time, and births planned at home were safe for babies 99.07% of the time. The authors state this small difference is unexplained, but asserted that homebirth is still safe for first time mothers
- It's also interesting to note that women planning a hospital birth experienced a 40% medical intervention rate (e.g caesarean, forceps, ventouse) compared to those who planned births at a freestanding midwifery-led unit (17%) and those who planned a homebirth (10%)