pregnancy (homebirth or obstetric unit)

Last reviewed 04/2019

Planning place of birth

  • NICE state that "..Women should be offered the choice of planning birth at home, in a midwife-led unit or in an obstetric unit"
  • women should be informed:
    • giving birth is generally very safe for both the woman and her baby
    • available information on planning place of birth is not of good quality, but suggests that among women who plan to give birth at home or in a midwife-led unit there is a higher likelihood of a normal birth, with less intervention. However NICE note that they do not have enough information about the possible risks to either the woman or her baby relating to planned place of birth
    • obstetric units provide direct access to obstetricians, anaesthetists, neonatologists and other specialist care including epidural analgesia
    • if something does go unexpectedly seriously wrong during labour at home or in a midwife-led unit, the outcome for the woman and baby could be worse than if they were in the obstetric unit with access to specialised care
    • if a pregnant mother has a pre-existing medical condition or has had a previous complicated birth that makes her at higher risk of developing complications during her next birth, she should be advised to give birth in an obstetric unit


  1. NICE (September 2007).Intrapartum care