The move comes following a national survey revealing that 40% of current home birth bags and equipment don’t meet their needs.
The survey of frontline community midwives, by mother and baby charity Baby Lifeline, found that 35% of respondents had to buy their home birth bag themselves, 30% felt the bag/container they used wasn’t safe, and 27% felt that they don’t carry all the equipment they need.
More concerning, is that 40% of those polled said their bag didn’t meet all their needs.
Commenting on the findings, Baby Lifeline Founder and Chief Executive Judy Ledger said: “Frontline community midwives reiterated the same thing that nationally, there is no standardisation in what equipment is carried to community births.
“Baby Lifeline believes that every woman who gives birth in the community, no matter where in the country she is, should have access to the same essential equipment through her midwife.
“Equally, every midwife should have access to the equipment needed to deliver safe and effective care. This is what we are working to achieve through this project.”
Starting next month, and funded by Fawsley Birth Centre, 42 new home birth bags will be trialled by frontline midwives in six UK trusts; Barts Health NHS Trust; Hywel Dda University Health Board; Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Medway NHS Foundation Trust; North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, and partners City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust.
READ MORE: What is a ‘hands off’ birth?
The rucksack style bags all have adjustable straps and optional wheels and are compartmentalised and colour coded to make it easier for midwives to identify equipment quickly.
The bags include everything from scissors to cut the cord, to a hat and towels to dry and warm the newborn baby, as well as equipment for emergencies that, although rare, can occur.
Following a successful trial the bags will be available to buy later this year.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) around 2.3% of women opt to give birth at home.
For women who have a straight forward pregnancy and both mum-to-be and baby are well, the NHS says women might choose to give birth at home.
In England and Wales, just over 1 in 50 pregnant women give birth at home.
They cite some of the advantages of home birth as being in familiar surroundings, where you may feel more relaxed and better able to cope, not having to interrupt your labour to go into hospital, not needing to leave your other children, if you have any and having an increased likelihood of being looked after by a midwife you have got to know during your pregnancy
There is also a lower likelihood of having an intervention, such as forceps or ventouse, than women giving birth in hospital.