Meghan Markle's birth plan draws laughter from world's top obstetricians

Meghan Markle has become the laughing stock of a group of top US obstetricians for reportedly deciding on a home birth for her first child.

The Duchess of Sussex's alternative birth plan was mentioned at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in Nashville, Tennessee.

"Meghan Markle has decided she's going to have a doula and a willow tree," said Dr Timothy Draycott, envoy of the Royal College of Gynecology, at the convention.

"Let's see how that goes," he continued, amid raucous laughter from the majority US doctors in the audience, reports the Daily Mail.

"She's 37, first birth. I don't know. We'll have to see."

However, in the UK, a home birth is not as laughable as it would seem in the US.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, an organisation responsible for writing the childbirth guidelines in the UK, said in 2014 home births are appropriate or beneficial for almost half of low-risk births.

Although Markle at 37 is "geriatric" in technical childbirth terms, the Royal College of Midwives say it is up to the expectant mother to make her own decision - and if age is her only risk factor then a home birth would be fine.

Homebirths are also safer in the UK than they are in the US due to an integrated system of care for homebirths that doesn't exist in the US, reports the Daily Mail.

Mothers in the UK receive antenatal, birth, and post-natal care, including 10 pregnancy appointments to check health and development. 

Midwives and nurses also perform home visits after birth, which are all covered by the National Health Service.

In the UK, fewer than 9.2 per 100,000 women die in childbirth. In the US, 26.5 per 100,000 mothers die.