It’s been announced that all pregnant women in the UK are to be provided with £3,000 to pay for personal midwives, or their own home birthing arrangements, because the NHS&’ maternity services are struggling to cope.
The news comes as part of an NHS overhaul of maternity services, with bosses hoping to convince more expectant mothers to give birth at home or in smaller midwife-run centres, rather than in hospitals – which has become the norm. Reports have suggested this is in a bid to ease the pressure coming from increased numbers of older or overweight mothers who are at higher risk of complicated births. Officials have said they hope the money will be made available to all women by 2018/2019.
From next year the government will be trialling the plan across four health trusts in England, involving thousands of women, to see if the reality is as beneficial as they hope.
For some groups of women there will be more than £3,000 on offer, too. ‘At risk’ groups who include obese women, those expecting twins or women suffering from long-term illness could be given more to help with their specifics needs.
New mums-to-be won’t be handed the cash though, they’ll have to work with their doctor or midwife to draw up a plan of exactly how they’ll spend the money and will be told their individual budget at their first check up after they know they’re pregnant.
Suggestions of how to spend the money include a private birthing suite, personal midwives and even aromatherapy, acupuncture and hypnotherapy to control the pain. There’s also options also available after birth if the mothers would prefer support for breastfeeding or midwife visits in the first few weeks.
Critics are worried some women will feel like they don’t have the choice of a hospital birth anymore
Some people have voiced concerns that women will be pressured into home births, even when they don’t want them. However, as the plans stand new mothers will still be able to turn down the money in favour of a hospital birth if they wish.
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The Daily Mail reported Baroness Cumberlege, a former health minister, was in favour of the new home birthing options, saying: ‘Women are not getting the choices they want. This is going to give women much more clout. It’s a driver for change, it’s a driver for choice.’
What do you think about the news? Would you have had a home birth if you had been given this option or would you turn down the cash in favour of a hospital? Comment below or over on our Facebook page