In the lead up to International Day of the Midwives on 5th May, we’re shining a light on the Tower Hamlets homebirth service, which has recently been shortlisted in this year’s HSJ Patient Safety Awards.
The midwives at Barts Health NHS Trust began providing a local homebirth service in January 2018, increasing choice for mothers alongside other local maternity services at The Royal London Hospital and midwife-led Lotus and Barkantine birth centres. The Tower Hamlets homebirth team provide a dedicated service, supporting women through their pregnancy, labour and afterwards, in their own home. Homebirths are recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) as the best option for women with low-risk pregnancies who have already given birth before. Labour is often shorter, there is less risk of infection and babies have better outcomes due to the more relaxed environment and one-to-one care given to mothers and babies.
Shumi Begum, a local mother from Whitechapel, gave birth to her second child in March of this year, and chose homebirth after a distressing hospital birth for her first son. “I feel my recovery was a lot quicker with this birth than with my son. After the birth, I had skin-to-skin contact with my baby and I was also able to have a shower. The midwives stayed until I finished my shower, made sure I was ok, comfortable, and that the baby was feeding ok. It was a very positive experience.”
Shumi also recalled, “The process was quite easy, knowing that [the midwives] come to you for appointments. Instead of having to pack your bags each time, everything was at home."
Unlike other options, these women will see the same midwife throughout their pregnancy and be attended by two midwives in labour. “The midwives were amazing. They are so lovely and they’re always there to help answer your questions.”
The first year’s report (2018-19) showed that 62% of women who partook in the homebirth service birthed their baby at home. This was nearly double amount of homebirths from the previous year. The report showed many positive statistics:
- 80% of women who started their labour at home birthed at home
- 97% of women who birthed at home had skin to skin at birth
- 89% of women at home used upright or active birthing positions, including pool births
- 88% of women who were attended in labour had previously met the midwife caring for them
- 25% of women saw fewer than three midwives as part of the continuity of carer pathway
- 80% of women who started their labour at home had no significant interventions in labour
- 94% of babies had a first feed of breast milk
- 85% of babies were exclusively breastfed at discharge from midwifery care by the team
To find out more about having a home birth email the team or speak to your GP or community midwife.