A study carried out by researchers from CPC, S3RI and the Centre for Global Health, Population, Poverty and Policy has shown that, among women with 'low-risk' pregnancies, those who intend to give birth in hospital are significantly more likely to experience a postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) than those who intend to give birth at home.
The research by Dr Andrea Nove, Dr Ann Berrington and Professor Zoe Matthews is published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth.
Whilst PPH is relatively rare, it is a serious complication of labour which is one of the leading causes of maternal death in both developed and developing countries.
The research team analysed the hospital records of over 500,000 women who gave birth in one English region between 1988 and 2000.
The odds of women in the 'hospital' group experiencing PPH were 2.5 times the odds of women in the 'home' group experiencing it (95% confidence interval 1.7 to 3.8). The 'home' group included women who intended a home birth but transferred to hospital during labour, and the analysis controlled for a number of confounding factors such as maternal age and parity.
The study concludes that: "Women and their partners should be advised that the risk of PPH is higher among births planned to take place in hospital compared to births planned to take place at home", and recommends further research to establish why the difference exists.
The study, entitled "Comparing the odds of postpartum haemorrhage in planned home birth against planned hospital birth: Results of an observational study of over 500,000 maternities in the UK" is available by open access online.