Last year, 15,500 women in England and Wales gave birth at home, compared with 19,000 in 2009.
The figures show that overall there were 698,512 babies born last year, down 4% on the total for 2012, which was the highest since the early 1970s.
Overall only just over one in 50 babies were born at home, despite a drive to promote home births. The practice is most common in the South West of England where 3.2% of babies are born at home, almost three times the proportion seen in the North East.
Carmel Lloyd, head of education at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “Although there may be a number of reasons why women choose to have a homebirth but do not have one, I am concerned that some women may be denied this choice because of midwife shortages.
“Choice of place of birth is a key part of the government’s policy around maternity services and we need to ensure that the choices women make are honoured and delivered. Real choice is important because a woman has to be happy and comfortable with the environment in which she gives birth.”
She added: “The evidence shows that births in midwife-led units or at home are just as safe, possibly safer, for low risk women. This is a position that is also supported by NICE. Ensuring women are aware of these facts is one step in empowering them to make their own decisions around childbirth.”