PREGNANT women in Trinity and St Clement are mostly likely to opt for a home birth, according to figures released by the Health Department.
Jersey’s home-birth rate is double that of the UK, with 5.8% of Island births taking place at home compared with a UK average of 2.4%.
And giving birth at home seems to be growing in appeal. In the first six months of this year, 24 babies were delivered in women’s homes, compared to 38 throughout 2021. One in eight mothers expecting this year so far in the Island said they planned to have a home birth.
During the six-month period, Trinity and St Clement saw the most babies born at home, according to the figures.
‘We can see the demand for home births has increased year on year, with 10% of all pregnant women in Jersey requesting a home birth in 2021, and for the first six months of 2022 it is already 12.7%,’ said Catherine Richardson, who leads the community midwifery team.
‘This suggests that women feel safe and supported in their home-birth planning.’
When giving birth at home, the majority (58%) of women use a birthing pool and have worked with one of the midwives caring for them earlier in their pregnancy (60%).
‘Jersey has a dedicated team of community midwives who are passionate about supporting home birth and have advanced neonatal life support and managing emergencies skills,’ Ms Richardson added. ‘The Jersey maternity unit has not only managed to maintain the home-birth service but has also grown it to provide women in Jersey with choice in their place of birth.
‘Home birth is a safe and appropriate decision for women and babies, and we know it can decrease the incidence of complications in birth, for example, caesarean sections, episiotomy rates, severe perineal trauma and haemorrhage.’
The Island’s midwives are supported in their work by charity Philip’s Footprints, which is committed to safer pregnancies and funds training and antenatal equipment alongside UK-based Baby Lifeline.
‘The community midwives have gone above and beyond to keep the service running and actively promote it to women and their families,’ Ms Richardson said. ‘Overall, the majority of women have achieved a safe home delivery and, where transfer to hospital has been required, there have been good outcomes as we work in conjunction with our hospital colleagues and ambulance personnel.’
Lead midwife Jan Auffret said the successful home-births programme was a reflection of the commitment of team members. ‘I would like to say thank you to the community team for their dedication and going above and beyond to ensure we have maintained this service for women and their families in Jersey,’ she said.