Maternity rights groups say there has been a rise in the number of women seeking advice about freebirthing owing to pressures on hospitals and new restrictions around birth partners.
More than a fifth of birthing centres and more than a third of homebirth services have closed due to a shortage of midwives and concerns about ambulance response times.
Alison Edwards, of Doula UK, whose 700 members advocate for expectant mothers, says she has seen a threefold increase in calls about freebirthing in the last fortnight.
“Initially women were concerned about staff shortages,” says Edwards. “Now they don’t want to go to hospital at all, it’s about infection.”