Research Article

Planned and unplanned deliveries at home: implications of a changing ratio.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984; 288 doi: (Published 12 May 1984) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1984;288:1429
  1. J F Murphy,
  2. M Dauncey,
  3. O P Gray,
  4. I Chalmers


    The observation that perinatal mortality among babies delivered at home has tended to increase beyond that among babies delivered in consultant obstetric units has caused alarm and prompted recommendations that delivery at home should be further phased out. With data derived from the Cardiff Births Survey the possibility was investigated that this trend might reflect a changing ratio of planned to unplanned domiciliary births. At the beginning of the 1970s deliveries at home that were planned to be so outnumbered those that were not by nearly five to one. By 1979 unplanned deliveries at home outnumbered planned deliveries. The characteristics of the mothers, the health care they received, and the outcome of delivery differed strikingly between planned and unplanned deliveries at home. It is concluded, firstly, that every year the maternity services must try to meet the various needs of about 2000 women in England and Wales who give birth at home without planning to do so; and, secondly, that the heterogeneity of births at home and in hospital will continue to obstruct the search for unbiased estimates of the risks attributable to delivery in specialist obstetric units, general practitioner units, and at home.