One in 40 new mothers gave birth at home in 2020, official data shows

Covid spiked home births: One in 40 new mothers delivered their babies at home in 2020, official data shows

  • In total, 14,281 of the 607,000 births – 2.4 percent – were at home in 2020
  • This was the biggest annual jump in home births since registration began
  • And was the highest percentage of home births recorded in nine years?



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One in 40 new mothers gave birth at home last year, as Covid led expectant parents to avoid hospitals.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that the proportion of home births reached its nine-year high in 2020.

In all, 14,281 of the 607,469 births in England and Wales – or 2.4 percent – were registered as ‘at home’. This was the biggest annual jump since records began, rising 2.1 percent from the previous year.

Millions of people avoided using the NHS during the first year of the pandemic.

Statisticians said this could have had an “indirect effect on place of birth, including people choosing to stay away from health care.”

Charities said that while home birth did not appear to pose an immediate risk to babies, parents should be aware of the facts.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show 2.4 percent of women will have a home birth in 2020, the highest rate in nine years

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show 2.4 percent of women will have a home birth in 2020, the highest rate in nine years

Is it safe to give birth at home?

Expectant mothers can choose whether they want to give birth in the hospital or at home.

The vast majority of mothers choose to have their babies in maternity wards, but an increasing number are opting for home births.

Stillbirth Tommy’s says if a mother has had a baby before and the pregnancy is low risk, home birth is “generally a safe and appropriate option.”

They said this was because a mother was less likely to need interventions.

And the chances of having a baby with serious medical problems are not affected by where you give birth.

They added that giving birth at home also had practical benefits, such as a more comfortable environment.

Mothers should not have a home birth, they said, if they have medical conditions, have had previous pregnancy problems, developed complications during pregnancy or are expecting more than one baby.

Source: Tommy’s

The ONS figures are compiled from official birth records in England and Wales reported to the General Register Office.

They normally include births through February of the following year due to reporting delays.

But this year they include births through August, which the ONS said was because 42 percent of registrations took more than 42 days to process, the legal limit.

The ONS said: ‘The pandemic caused disruption to health services and restrictions on birth partners.

“Therefore, Covid may have had an indirect effect on the place of birth, which may include people choosing to stay away from healthcare facilities.”

The report also found that in 2020, mothers had an average age of 30.7 years, while fathers had an average age of 33.7 years. This was hardly a change from previous years.

And the stillbirth rate fell to its lowest level ever, at 3.8 per 1,000 births.

The share of preterm births fell to 7.4 percent in 2020, from 7.8 percent a year earlier.

Clea Harmer, the director of Sands – a charity for stillbirth and neonatal death – said it’s “vital” that women can make informed choices about where they want to give birth.

She said: ‘It is vital that all pregnant women can have open conversations about their birth plan with healthcare professionals and express any questions or concerns.

‘It is essential that women can make informed choices about where they want to give birth.

“Home births may not be possible for all women, especially if they have been determined to be at higher risk because of age, ethnicity, or a history of miscarriage or stillbirth.”

She added that there was evidence that it was extremely important to have the same maternity team during pregnancy and delivery to ‘build confidence’.

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