PREGNANT women in Barnsley are being encouraged to give birth to their babies at home rather than in hospital - which costs nearly £600 more.

A group of community midwives is looking at how it can raise the profile of home births and work out why women in Barnsley are choosing not to have them.

In Barnsley, there were 25 homebirths last year out of 3,000 deliveries - just one per cent.

Hospital papers show the average cost of giving birth at home is £1,066, compared to the £1,631 it costs to have a baby in hospital.

A hospital spokesman said there were many benefits to homebirths, though it may not be the right choice if there are medical or obstetric reasons.

Women would also be transferred to hospital if they needed further pain relief such as an epidural.