According to figures from perinatal care organisation Perined only 13% of mothers chose to have their baby at home in 2015 compared to almost one in four a decade ago.
The paper calls the figures ‘striking’ because the Netherlands has always been regarded as a country where home births were a popular option. In the 1990s home births accounted for 35% of births while in the post-war years 80% of women had their baby at home, the paper writes.
According to the Dutch association of gynaecologists NVOG the fall in home births is connected with an increase in the demand for pain relief which cannot be administered at home.
More ‘honest’ information also contributed to home births becoming less popular. ‘Time was when having your baby at home was the norm. But now women are told that this isn’t always the best option. Half of women who choose a home birth end up in hospital,’ NVOG chair Jan van Lith told the paper.
Midwife association KNOV chair Mieke Beentjes thinks the problem lies with women being given the wrong information.
‘In 2010 baby mortality in the Netherlands was the subject of much heated debate and at the time an unjustified link was made with home births. The effect of that is still noticeable,’ Beentjes told the paper.
Beentjes hopes the number of home births will stabilise in the next few years. ‘It is time home birth is rehabilitated. Because if it can be done safely and the women in question wants it, the home is a wonderful place to have a baby.’
The NVOG which has criticised the practice in the past agrees home births should remain ‘an option’, the AD said.