Why Home Birth?


In New Zealand, around 3.5% of births are home births (according to a 2019 study), and this percentage has remained fairly stable, although increasing slightly in recent years. In certain regions, such as the West Coast of the South Island, the rate of home births is at a much higher 12.5%. This is most likely because of supportive midwifery homes and natural birthing centres in the region.


  • Women who were most likely to be ‘very satisfied with their birth were women who had a planned home birth (78%)
  • Women who opted for planned home births were far more satisfied with the overall birth and care that they received. (90%)
  • Women who opted for planned home births were more pleased with the quality of information they received. (97%)
  • Home birthing women were more satisfied with the postnatal care that they received.


4.9 % of all babies were born at home (planned and unplanned)

When women are having their second child, the percentage increases to 6.7%

The percentage increases for women having their second or subsequent child (6.7%)

Home-birthed babies had the highest rates of exclusive breastfeeding (87%)


The Benefits

Home births are becoming more popular because of the many benefits that are associated with them, including the following:

  • Having a home birth means you have a much higher chance of having a natural, vaginal birth, which has many benefits for the baby, including increased immunity as the baby is born with the mother’s antibodies.
  • There is a lower chance of infection in home births than there are in hospital births for both the baby and the mother.
  • Better bonding between the baby and their mother and father.
  • There is a continuous, unbroken connection that aids in the success of breastfeeding, which further supports the baby’s immunity.
  • You enjoy a customised midwife service that can be tailored to your specific needs and that aims at comprehensive care.
  • You have complete control and autonomy over your decisions and get to give birth in a familiar environment.
  • Lower chances of unnecessary interventions.
  • More emotional and physical comfort after the birth.
  • You can choose who you want to be at your birth and also get to choose what happens to the placenta.

NZ Maternity System

The central concept of New Zealand’s maternity system is having a Lead Maternity Carer (LMC). This LMC coordinates all of your maternity care and is chosen by you. You can choose between midwives, general practitioners, or obstetricians.

Your LMC will offer valuable advice on where and how you can give birth, but the choice is up to you, based on informed consent. You can give birth at the following facilities:

  • Primary maternity facility
  • Secondary maternity care facility
  • Tertiary maternity care facility

In most cases, midwives work collaboratively with other health practitioners to ensure that all of your needs are met throughout your pregnancy and birth. Because you are able to select your midwife, you can choose someone that you feel comfortable with and who is experienced with home births.

When you choose a midwife as your LMC, regardless of where you plan to give birth, you can expect these services. These expectations are furnished by the New Zealand College of Midwives. Further information about the college is available here.

It is a good idea to choose a midwife as soon as you find out you are pregnant so that you can begin planning your birth and ensure that you are well cared for throughout your pregnancy. If along the way you find that you are dissatisfied with your midwife, you can always change to someone that you feel more comfortable with.

Cascade of Intervention

The cascade of intervention refers to the high chance that one medical intervention will lead to another one, with many of these interventions often being unnecessary. This domino effect of interventions often occurs simply because you accepted the initial intervention.

These interventions include things like testing, treatments, foetal monitoring, pain medications, assisted births, epidurals, and even C-sections.

You need to ensure that you do not simply agree to any and all interventions offered to you by practising informed consent.

Consider the following statistics and factors of consideration:

  • Agreeing to an epidural can increase your chances of having a C-section by as much as 160%
  • There are higher levels of intervention among older pregnant women.
  • A high level of interventions proves to be completely unnecessary in hindsight.
  • Home births and the continuity of midwife care results in lower intervention rates.
  • Hospital births have a far higher rate of intervention.
  • Unnecessary interventions can result in complications.

Inform yourself of the various interventions that may be offered to you, and understand when they may be truly necessary.