Reinstate home birth services in Hackney

Reinstate home birth services in Hackney

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Hackney Home Birth Support Group started this petition to Tracey Fletcher Chief Executive, Homerton University Hospital

Homerton hospital has currently suspended its home birth service citing the fact that London Ambulance Service is under unprecedented pressure due to the Covid-19 outbreak and that there is a “risk of delay if a home birth mother requires an urgent transfer to hospital”. 

Please sign our petition to ask for a transparent investigation by Homerton hospital into how staffing and safe transfer challenges could be addressed and an assurance that all avenues have been explored, particularly given that other London trusts are continuing to operate a home birth service (Chelsea and Westminster and Tower Hamlets to name just a couple). 

We applaud the dedication of maternity professionals across the UK. Despite the challenges faced by maternity services, we remain united in the belief that every woman needs safe, respectful and compassionate care during pregnancy and birth.

A number of women have come forward to express their concerns for their mental health due to the change in their birth plans, as well as being very worried about the risk of catching Covid-19 in the hospital. 

  • There is an increased risk of Covid-19 for pregnant women entering the hospital - who have so far been self isolating at home
  • Mental health concerns for women having their birth plans changed, particularly those who have had traumatic hospital experiences before
  • Other trusts are continuing to operate a home birth service, some using a private ambulance service

The charity Birthrights states that they believe that suspending home birth services “may be unlawful and could lead trusts to be responsible for significant risk to life if women choose to birth without medical assistance.”

Home birth is a safe and practical option for women with healthy pregnancies. Planned home birth increases the chances of a vaginal birth and reduces the likelihood of interventions and such as episiotomy, instrumental vaginal birth, and cesarean birth. Many women choose home birth after a traumatic hospital birth. For hospitals, there are clear cost benefits to home birth, alongside an increase in patient satisfaction.

The home birth midwifery service not only supports families to reduce interactions and unnecessary travel, but also reduces hospital bed occupation, allows families to stay together immediately after babies are born and for the postnatal period, and also ensures that women have their chosen birth partner(s) present at their baby’s birth. Home births reduce the risk of coming into contact with Covid-19 by enabling families to stay in their home and seeing case-loading midwives.

We urge you to investigate how home birth services could be reinstated safely at Homerton hospital.

Quotes directly from the women and people who were been signed up to the Homerton home birth service, until it was suspended:

B, who does not wish to be named, says, “I am due in 2 days, I was told I couldn’t go ahead with my home birth at 39 weeks. I am completely devastated and angry. My first child was born in the hospital and it was a traumatic experience. I cannot remember the first months of his life as I was so deep into depression. Why has nobody thought of the ripple effects of this on a mother with a history of postnatal depression? Why are my choices not being respected? Give us back our home birth!"

Nawal Soussi says, "My first child was born in hospital, a labour I’d much rather forget. I felt unsettled, unsafe and misunderstood. I was in labour for 27 hours, needed an episiotomy at the end and a forceps delivery. This time I wanted to be at home, in my safe place, with my partner in familiar surroundings. I want freedom to allow my body to do what it does best, give birth naturally in its natural setting."

Ruth Morgan Turner says, "I'm due July 1st and was hoping to have a home birth. My last birth, in hospital, left me with a lot of trauma and I don’t feel safe there. I’ll feel even less safe knowing how many people are inpatients with Covid-19. On top of this, my husband won't be able to support me at the hospital or be at the birth of his child, as he will have to look after our son at home."

Katie Robins says, "The cancellation of my planned home birth has left me absolutely devastated as I absolutely do not feel safe giving birth in a hospital during this pandemic. The media coverage leaves me feeling very frightened of going into hospital to give birth. My husband and I are now forced to look into other options including unassisted birth which was absolutely not part of our plan initially."

Jess Chandler says, "My 2nd child is due on the 20th June and I feel very strongly that, as a low-risk pregnancy, the safest option would be for me to go ahead with the home birth I had hoped for. This would remove the risk of infection from the hospital environment, allow me to be with my partner and our daughter, and to have support from other family members, and stop us from taking up vital resources at the hospital."

Ana Lorena Bolivar Exposito says, "The idea of giving birth has always terrified me and I have worked towards a home birth delivery for the last 5 months. I do not want to go to the hospital and know that my body will not respond in the same way, and I might need to have to go through medical intervention."

Francesca Morroni says, “I am due in less than a month and the idea of giving birth in the hospital, where Covid-19 patients are treated, terrifies me as we have been in isolation for weeks. We’ve been planning for home birth since the beginning of my pregnancy and this sudden change of scenario is not helping my mental health. I feel stressed and anxious, while I would be much more relaxed and confident knowing that I could have the birth I always hoped for our first baby. If other hospitals are still allowing home birth, there must be a way Homerton can find a solution. Please reconsider your position and allow home birth to be reinstated!"

Fiona Barry Gallagher ays, “I am due mid-May and have been planning a HBAC, which I have really had to fight for. I am now back in the unpredictable arms of the hospital and the threat of unwanted and unnecessary medical intervention is everywhere. I am so stressed out about it all.  My husband and I have no family close-by and have a two year old so it's likely I'll have to labour without a birth-partner, as he will have to stay home to take care of her. The hospital is also the most likely place I will contract coronavirus as I've been in quarantine at home. I'm devastated.”

G, who does not wish to be named, says, "I’m due at the end of May and was planning a home birth. The idea of going to hospital in the current situation and without my doula, as only one partner is allowed currently, is terrifying. I’m having to choose between two different dangers - going to hospital without the support I need and risking infection and interventions, or give birth at home with an independent midwife against the advice of the NHS and lack of ambulance support. I understand this is an emergency situation and am fully supportive of all the efforts the NHS are making right now however that a solution can be found in order to still allow women to give birth in the place of their choice and feel supported."

Thank you for your support. Please sign and share. 

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