By Mark Duell for MailOnline and Rebecca English, Royal Correspondent for the Daily Mail

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are pictured at the Bristol Old Vic theatre on February 1

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will only announce the birth of their baby once they have 'had an opportunity to celebrate privately as a new family', Kensington Palace revealed today.

Meghan is expected to have a midwife-led home birth at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor, the new home she shares with Prince Harry on the Berkshire estate.

She wants to follow in the footsteps of the Queen, who was born at the Mayfair home of her grandparents and gave birth to all four of her children at either Buckingham Palace or Clarence House.

A Kensington Palace spokesman said: 'The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are very grateful for the goodwill they have received from people throughout the United Kingdom and around the world as they prepare to welcome their baby.

'Their Royal Highnesses have taken a personal decision to keep the plans around the arrival of their baby private.

'The Duke and Duchess look forward to sharing the exciting news with everyone once they have had an opportunity to celebrate privately as a new family.'

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit New Zealand House in London last month on March 19

Kensington Palace said the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are to keep details about the arrangements for the birth of their baby private

Sources stressed earlier this week that Harry and Meghan, who are expecting their first child within weeks, have not ruled out a hospital delivery because a woman having a baby over the age of 35 is at an increased risk of premature birth or the need for an epidural or caesarean.

But a friend in America said the duchess - who still practices yoga daily and has 'sailed' through her pregnancy - is in extremely good health and sees no reason why she could not enjoy a safe delivery in the privacy of the cottage.

'It is her favoured choice,' the source said, 'but it obviously depends on how things are nearer the time.'

If she does go ahead with a home birth, Meghan could give birth without any pain relief at all, but would also have the option of gas and air, a warm bath, a birth pool, TENS (a machine that uses small, electrical impulses to reduce pain and muscle spasms) or relaxation techniques such as hypnobirthing, which Californian Meghan - who very much favours alternative therapies - is believed to have been studying with Harry.

Harry and Meghan are said to have quickly ruled out using the private Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, like William and Kate (pictured with Prince Louis on April 23 last year)

It is understood that the 34-year-old prince would be by his wife's side 'every step of the way'. The option would also have the added benefit of giving the couple the privacy they crave.

The Duchess of Sussex attends a reception at Buckingham Palace in London on March 5

It is understood they quickly ruled out the option of using the private Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Kate delivered George, now five, Charlotte, three, and 11-month-old Louis at St Mary's.

However it is thought Harry and Meghan decided against it because it felt too much like a 'goldfish bowl'.

The duchess objected to the idea of standing on the steps of the maternity unit surrounded by the public and the media just hours after the birth, particularly when her child will not be in the direct line of succession.

Last week it emerged the couple had also made clear that they want minimal involvement from the Queen's household doctors, surgeon gynaecologists Alan Farthing and Guy Thorpe-Beeston, widely considered to be among the best in the business. Sources said suggestions it was a 'snub' were 'wide of the mark', however.

'When it comes to giving birth, every woman has to decide what's best for her and what's best for her baby. The Queen's team will be involved, but it has not been decided how much yet,' said one.

Opting for a home birth would also explain why there would be minimal need for a consultant, aside from confirming that the baby is fit and healthy.

The Queen gave birth to each of her four children at either Buckingham Palace or Clarence House (pictured with Prince Andrew, four, and a newborn Prince Edward in June 1964)

Home births only account for around 2.3 per cent - one in 40 births - in England and are normally led by a local midwife.

Community midwives are available on the NHS but it is also possible to hire an independent midwife at a cost of between £2,000 and £5,000.

Meghan will, however, have had to consider that for women having their first baby, home birth slightly increases the risk of serious problems for the child - from five in 1,000 for a hospital birth to nine in 1,000 for a home birth.

That said, the Royal Family has a long history of women giving birth successfully at home. The Queen Mother gave birth to the Queen on April 21, 1926 at the London home of her grandparents, the Earl and Countess of Strathmore.

The Queen herself gave birth to Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward at either Buckingham Palace or Clarence House.

Harry and Meghan, who completed their move to Frogmore last week, see the cottage as their 'forever home'. They believe it will enable them to bring up their family outside the scrutiny of palace life.

Are home births safe?

Home births are generally considered a safe option if women have already had a baby - provided there were no complications.

But they are not normally recommended for those having their first child.

This is because new mothers may experience problems during the birth which require a caesarean or forceps delivery, which can only be done at hospital.

In recent years health officials have been trying to encourage women to consider having their babies at home, or in birthing units, instead of in hospital.

Not only are these options cheaper for the NHS, they also provide a more relaxing experience away from the stress and noise of a busy labour ward.

Furthermore, a large number of NHS trusts do not have the staffing capacity or funding to provide dedicated midwives to run birthing units. But many women are understandably reluctant to have their babies away from hospital just in case something goes wrong, and they are far away from doctors and nurses.

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that only 2.1 per cent of women in England and Wales had a home birth in 2017. The remainder had their babies in hospital or midwife-led units, although the data does not give the respective numbers.

There are no official figures on the safety of home births compared to those which take place in hospital or smaller, midwife-led birthing units.

Guidelines from the health watchdog Nice, published in 2014, state that women do not need to book a hospital delivery unless they are at high risk of complications. They can consider a home birth if they have already had one child. But if it is their first child they should go to a midwife-led unit. The guidance states: 'Midwives should explain to the mother-to-be that she may choose any birth setting... and support her in her choice.'

It adds: 'Midwives should advise low-risk women who have already had at least one child to plan to give birth either at home or in a midwife-led unit.'

Advice from Tommy's, which funds research to prevent stillbirths, says: 'If you've had a baby before and this pregnancy is low-risk, giving birth at home is generally a safe and suitable option.'

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