The right to choose

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ANGRY Fife mums and mums-to-be have mounted a campaign calling for health bosses to change their minds about scrapping a home birth service.

And the campaign, ‘Right to Home Birth for Parents of Fife’, mounted on social network site Facebook, has already attracted almost 450 members.

This week it received backing from the Royal College of Midwives, which said women should have the right to choose where they give birth.

A review of the home birth service, which allows mothers to deliver in their own homes with support from specially trained midwives, was announced by NHS Fife last month as part of a plan to save £33,000.

A report into the service showed that numbers requesting it had fallen over the past few years, with 40 home births in the region last year, 30 fewer than in 2009. Only ten women had booked the service for this year.

Homely

Health bosses said advances in hospital deliveries meant women could deliver in a homely environment at Forth Park’s midwife led unit, while those experiencing normal deliveries were allowed home within six hours. They also said that facilities within the new hospital wing would give women more choice.

However Gillian Smith, director of the Royal College of Midwives in Scotland, said: “We are very clear this is removing women’s choice and to say it is because of efficiency savings is a red herring because the money that will be saved is miniscule in the greater scheme of things.”

She warned that it could lead to women wanting home births leaving it until too late to go to hospital and delivering at home without any support.

A spokesman for NHS Fife said: “Currently within Fife many women choose to give birth in our midwife-led unit because it gives them a more homely environment and their experience is not medicalised.

“Last year there were a total of 3772 births in Fife with 1469 births taking place in the unit.

“Over recent years the numbers of women requesting home births has been falling. Last year 39 home births took place and only 10 are booked for this year.”