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Despite Move to Promote Midwivery, UK Birth Center to Close

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Just days after the UK announced a new plan to promote the safety of midwife attended home birth as a safe option for low risk moms, news has come out stating that many of the UKs midwife attended birth centers are being forced to close.

The Guardian Unlimited has the story.

More than 15 birth centres are under threat as NHS trusts struggle to deal with financial deficits, the Guardian has learned. Just eight days ago, as health secretary Patricia Hewitt spoke to the midwives' annual conference about the need to give more women one-to-one care, the third largest birth centre in the country, in Stroud, was told it must shut because of financial pressure, though there is no question of its success and the admiration in which it is held locally.

Stroud, which has been a maternity unit for more than 50 years, delivered 365 babies last year - 28% of them by water births. It achieves home birth and breastfeeding rates higher than the national average, and a third of the women in labour had their own community midwives with them. A further 350 women who gave birth in hospital - sometimes after Caesareans - then transferred to Stroud to rest and recover.

Those running the birth centers claim that closing them won't result in a long-term reduction in costs. Reasons cited include lower cost of care for moms and babies that are cared for in these centers (lower drug costs, lower baby care costs, etc...) and the fact that in the absense of a birth center, more moms will turn to home births rather than to OB-led hospital birthing centers.

Seems like a shame that right on the heels of such a great step forward in choice for women's birthing options, that options are actually being taken away. :(