mums-to-be in Fife will no longer be offered the option of giving birth in their own homes on the NHS.
Stopping the home birthing service, which costs NHS Fife £33,000 a year, has been put forward as part of an efficiency savings plan.
But the move has been criticised by the National Childbirth Trust which says women should be able to give birth where they feel most comfortable.
A drop in demand, high cost and improvements in non-medical hospital maternity care are all given as the reasons for the decision.
Caroline Inwood, director of nursing, said that last year in Fife there were 40 home births – 30 fewer than in 2009. Only 10 have registered this year.
Steven Monaghan, consultant obstetrician, said the main reason some women wanted a home birth was that they didn’t want medical intervention.
He added: “People can be looked after in hospital in our midwife-led unit using a model being looked at nationally and internationally as good practice.
“In six months we are opening a new unit in the hospital where they can labour and recover in one large room.
‘‘They can have their whole family there if they want.”
Barbara Purdie, NCT community development worker for Scotland, said: “We were disappointed to hear of this decision.
‘’We believe all pregnant women should be able to choose where they wish to give birth.
‘‘Women and their families in Fife should be offered the choice of giving birth at home where appropriate.”