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Got questions about giving birth? Know what to expect and when to expect it, with the Mumsnet Pregnancy Calendar.

If you want a home birth ....

(22 Posts)
SoupKitchen Wed 13-Aug-08 16:17:30

What do you do if your local hospital says they are unable to accommodate it due to staffing levels

My cousin has just been told this in East London

vbacqueen1 Wed 13-Aug-08 16:18:46

Tell her to get in touch with AIMS - they'll point her in the right direction:

DisenchantedPlusBump Wed 13-Aug-08 16:20:13

AIMS are fantastic, they helped build a fantastic case FOR homebirth with my aunt.

Then they actually contacted her when her son was 9 months old to see how it went

They really are brilliant, I love them.

bythepowerofgreyskull Wed 13-Aug-08 16:23:51

I would contact AIMS but I would also reconsider my choices as I am not a confrontational person.

SoupKitchen Wed 13-Aug-08 16:32:20

She has just had a 12 wek scan and has already been told staffing levels are a problem for a homebirth hmm

She is not very confrontational but does not see why postcodes dictate the type of birth offered, and wants to know the alternatives.

I was very much an epidural/c-section woman but want to support her as much as possible

SoupKitchen Wed 13-Aug-08 16:48:32

anyone else??

RhinestoneCowgirl Wed 13-Aug-08 16:52:33

Have not had to use them myself, but AIMS is supposed to be good, as others have suggested.

Other thing to try might be seeing if there is a homebirth support group in her area? I'm in Bristol and went to one run by an independent midwife. They might be able to give her some support with putting her arguement forward in a reasoned way...

Basically, staffing is the issue of the health authority, not your friends, although I can understand how hard it is to be confrontational in pg.

SoupKitchen Wed 13-Aug-08 17:01:11

The trust she is with suspended their home birth service earlier in the year, so I don't know that appealing would really help.
Can you change to an out of area hospital and have a home birth through them?

BitOfFun Wed 13-Aug-08 17:05:38

It is my understanding that the Health Authority has to provide the staff - just look at their awkwardness as a hurdle they see if they can put you off with - they can't legally refuse from what I can tell. I had THREE midwives at mine - one for me, one for the baby and a student I said could observe, so it was one way to avoid the horror stories of NHS midwives just poking their heads around the corner before scuttling up the corridor to someone else in labour! AIMS is definitely the way to go, I agree.

sitdownpleasegeorge Wed 13-Aug-08 17:22:59

If they have suspended their service due to staffing levels they are presumably trying to ensure safe staff levels at the hospital delivery unit.

Maybe you can insist using AIMS but what then happens to those mothers labouring in the maternity unit - is it just their tough luck if they end up suing for birth damage caused by insufficient staffing levels ?

How do the maternity unit find more staff, assuming this is not a budget issue and is a genuine shortage of staff issue ?

Peachy Wed 13-Aug-08 17:24:49

AIMs again- they hel;ped me get my HB

Is she in the SW? I know a trust there that did this, and afaik it's sadly very set in stone (where my family live)

Peachy Wed 13-Aug-08 17:27:55

George I see your point but its not always thatr simple

My HB was initially refused on grounds of sutability (changed later, perfect HB in April) but the reason I wanted it wasn't sel;fishness- it was because I couldn't guarante anyone could care for my sn boys when I went into labour (DH worked a decent commute away, on night shifts) and I didn't fancy delivering the baby myself waiting for him to come home so I could go in.... as it ahppened birth was so fast that would indeed have been the case if DH hadn't happened to be home that night

YumMum22 Wed 13-Aug-08 17:31:35

soupkitchen will that be newham general??? i had the same problem with them at my booking appointment i insisted and they booked me in for homebirth although they said i might have to come in when in labour and they have no one to send. i am now 31 weeks and still battling.

theres lots of information on this thread

she will need to be ready to battle and send lots of letters there are templates on the thread above.

also thesetwo websites are very helpful it tells you above your rights and how to overcome obstacles

regarding other hospitals ive tried that too and the only hospital that can give you a homebirth is the one in your borough. so if she lives in newham only newham can give her a homebirth.

MissKubelik Wed 13-Aug-08 17:33:09

If she is in East London I am not surprised tbh - I had my first baby at Whipps Cross and they were seriously understaffed.

Could she afford an independent midwife?

YumMum22 Wed 13-Aug-08 17:40:11

sitdownpleasegeorge got this from

What about staffing shortages?

Women planning a home birth are sometimes told that the local health authority may not be able to provide a midwife on the day, because of staffing problems. If you hold out for a home birth in these circumstances, you may feel guilty that you would be taking midwives away from other women who need them on the labour ward. This is an understandable concern, but it is important to remember that staffing levels are the health authority's responsibility, not yours. You may sympathise with their problems, but remember that “where there's a will, there's a way”. Trusts which are fully supportive of home birth find a way around this problem; so can yours.

While sympathising with the health authority's staffing problems, you can ask what they are doing to resolve their staffing problems. Advertising vacancies is insufficient - perhaps providing their midwives with more autonomy and job satisfaction, for example with the opportunity to attend births at home, would improve their retention of midwives.

If women are persuaded to abandon their home birth plans on the grounds of staff shortages, the health authority will have no incentive to improve its services for other women - so by holding out for a home birth you are helping to improve choice in your area, and helping to make midwives' jobs more interesting - and you are also saving money for the NHS (see below).

Every health authority has access to what are called 'bank midwives', and most use them regularly when they have staffing problems in the hospital. These are midwives who work on a temporary basis, sometimes for just one shift at a time (a bit like supply teachers). Some will be midwives who are employed by the same health authority, who are taking on extra work - doing overtime - and others will be midwives who want to work part-time but who have not obtained a permanent part-time job, or midwives who are currently taking a career break to look after their own children, but will work occasional shifts, or semi-retired midwives. All 'bank midwives' are all fully-qualified midwives. If there was a genuine shortage of midwives on the labour ward then the health authority should always be able to arrange cover on the ward from a bank midwife, thus freeing up a community midwife to attend home births.

In some areas, independent midwives work as 'bank midwives' when they are not needed by their own clients. On occasion, independent midwives have attended home births on behalf of health authorities who could not arrange cover from their own employees. Sometimes such arrangements are made in advance - when people talk of arranging an 'extra-contractual referral' to an independent midwife, they mean that an independent midwife would be booked to attend you, but would be paid directly by the health authority.

Boobz Wed 13-Aug-08 22:44:12

Soup Kitchen, do tell your friend to check out the thread that Yummum pointed to. A lot of people who have been told exactly what your friend has been told have gone on to have successful home births with perseverence. They have kindly posted their experiences and templates for letters which might prove useful.

I hope she gets the birth she wants.

LynetteScavo Wed 13-Aug-08 22:52:09

Sorry this isn't a helpful reply, but I really can't believe a shortage of midwives is due to a lack of qualified midwives being available for employment. It's surely a budget issue. hmm

Notanexcitingname Thu 14-Aug-08 11:09:38

LynetteScavo is right-there are plenty of NQmidwives desperate for jobs, but no vacancies, because of budget.

Also; sitdowngeorge, it is community midwives who attend homebirth, and calling out one of these has no impact on delivery suite staffing levels.

GirlWithTheMouseyHair Thu 14-Aug-08 11:30:07

is it worth her looking at alternative hopitals? I'm in south london and was told I could choose between 4 different hospitals!!

InTheDollshouse Thu 14-Aug-08 13:38:52

sitdowngeorge, I can't see that refraining from complaining about poor service in one aspect of maternity care can possibly help women using another area of the service. It is by using organisations like AIMS, by complaining about poor services, by refusing to be fobbed off that things get improved.

SoupKitchen, if your cousin decides to write a letter she might like to CC it to her MP.

kiskidee Thu 14-Aug-08 13:45:29

Go to the Homebirth thread for First timers here in Childbirth. Yesterday I put up the copy of the letter I sent my Hospital Trust. It was made up using the template from plus info from and adlibbing from myself. You are welcome to use it.

SoupKitchen Thu 14-Aug-08 14:02:31

Thanks At least I have something to get her started.
Best give her a heads up on MN and get her to look at the thread for homebirth.
Yikes noone in RL knows I am on here grin

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