Guernsey home births 'threatened by staff shortage'

Pregnant woman Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Some mothers describe homebirths as a "very empowering experience"

Home births are not available due to a lack of staffing, according to some pregnant women in Guernsey.

Women and the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) contacted the BBC after being told home births would not be possible.

In response the Health and Social Services Department said there had been no change to its policy on home births.

Anita Davies, from NCT, said the number of women giving birth at home was small, but uncertainty was leaving people distressed and anxious.

A spokesman for the Health and Social Services Department said there had been occasions in the past when the department had not been able to support home birth requests to "ensure appropriate resources are available to provide safe clinical care".

'Right to choose'

They said home births were given careful consideration but it is by no means a routine approach.

He said: "If assurance of safe care cannot be achieved at the same time as scheduling for two midwives to attend a planned home birth, this is when alternative arrangements have to be made.

"This has meant that on some occasions, requests for planned home births have to be managed in discussion and with agreement of mothers-to-be."

The news follows major changes at the Loveridge Ward, the island's only maternity ward, after the release of a critical report into the supervision of midwifery services.

Among the expectant mothers to comment on the BBC Radio Guernsey Facebook page was Louise Gallienne who is 17 weeks pregnant and wrote "just been told I am not allowed a home birth due to the lack of staffing".

"I was very disappointed. I am hoping they will be able to get the staff so in the future it will be a service they can offer again," she added.

Joey De Mouilpied, due in May, told a similar story saying she had been told last week her home birth would not be possible due to "staffing issues".

However, Amber Furby, who is due on Thursday, said there had been no suggestion her home birth would not go ahead, but suggested maybe no new bookings were being approved.

Ms Davies said normally fewer than 10 women in Guernsey gave birth at home each year, but the core of the issue was a woman's right to choose.

She said she had been approached by three women who had hoped to have home births and it was "puzzling why this decision has come about without any clear statement".

In December 2010 Guernsey's Health and Social Services Department said it was a woman's right to make an informed choice about the place of birth.

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