Women are better giving birth at home or in midwife centres than in hospital, where doctors are more likely to perform interventions such as caesareans, according to new British guidance.
The official body in charge of giving health advice, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) said that women with straightforward pregnancies are safer under the care of midwives at home or in midwife centres.
Women who give birth in labour wards in hospitals - who make up 90 per cent of all births - are more likely to undergo interventions such as birth by forceps and caesarians.
"It's very difficult to explain why this is happening but the closer you are to hospital and indeed if you are in hospital the more likely you are to receive hospital care and surgical interventions," said Mark Baker, head of clinical practice at NICE.
Baker recommended that health commissioners plan towards midwifery services rather than hospital care.
"Some women may prefer to have their baby at home or in a midwife-led unit because they are generally safer," said Susan Bewley, complex obstetrics professor at King's College London, who helped write the recommendations.
"That is their right and they should be supported in that choice."