Letter to The Guardian in response to their article, "Meghan Markle’s home birth should not blind us to the risks for most women"

Sent 9th May 2019

By email (guardian.readers@theguardian.com)

Dear Sir,

I write in response to the opinion piece by Barbara Ellen entitled “Meghan Markle’s home birth should not blind us to the risks for most women”, published online on the 13th April1. Not only was the piece desperately trying to jump on the 'Meghan Pregnancy Band-wagon' whilst pretending to maintain an aloof irony, but it repeated incorrect and dangerous myths about homebirth which undermine the safety of women and their babies. It therefore breaches the Guardian News & Media’s Editorial Code in the area of section 1, accuracy.

Rather than using evidence, research and an assumption that women are able to make responsible and careful decisions to best suit them and their family circumstances the author is perpetuating out of date myths to the disservice of pregnant women making informed decisions about best place of birth for them and their baby.

Specific areas of inaccuracy are:

1) The article states, “Meghan Markle’s home birth should not blind us to the risks for most women”. This implies that homebirth would be an unsafe option for most women which is not evidence based. In fact, evidence from the Birthplace Study 20112 tells us that many more women could safely choose to birth at home than currently do.

2) “Ordinary women are allocated one midwife” In fact, all UK hospital trusts allocate two midwives for a homebirth, and almost all are attended by two midwives.

Both the NHS3,4 and NICE5 support homebirth in the UK as a safe and sensible option for birth, and the safest option for healthy and second or subsequent pregnancies. Undermining these facts puts women and babies at risk of unnecessary harm. Your contributor would be advised at least to read these basic sources before showing off her own ignorance on this very important subject.

Yours faithfully,

Emma Ashworth

AIMS Trustee

References:

1) “Meghan Markle’s home birth should not blind us to the risks for most women” https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/13/meghan-markle-home-birth-should-not-blind-us-to-risks-for-most-women

2) Birthplace Study: https://www.npeu.ox.ac.uk/birthplace

3) NHS – “Where to give birth: The options”: www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/where-can-i-give-birth/#home-birth

4) Your Choice, Where to have your baby. Information for healthy, low risk women having their first baby:

assets.nhs.uk/prod/documents/NHSE-your-choice-where-to-have-baby-first-baby-sept2018.pdf

5) NICE – “Intrapartum care for healthy women and babies”: www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg190/chapter/Recommendations


AIMS supports all maternity service users to navigate the system as it exists, and campaigns for a system which truly meets the needs of all. AIMS does not give medical advice, but instead we focus on helping women to find the information that they need to make informed decisions about what is right for them, and support them to have their decisions respected by their health care providers. The AIMS Helpline volunteers will be happy to provide further information and support. Please email helpline@aims.org.uk or ring 0300 365 0663.

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