Birth is meant to be left alone. To interrupt the birth process, to disturb and disrupt it….forever changes it. Home delivery should be an option for mothers with uncomplicated pregnancies, provided they are advised of the risks involved. Homebirth midwives provide one-to-one midwife care and they have good resuscitation skills and live in a location that allows quick access to obstetric care. Homebirth is safe. In some regards it is actually safer than a hospital birth. One of the problems with this question is that in asking it, there is a hidden assumption that non-homebirths are the safety standard. I need to point out that no study has ever shown hospital births to be safer than homebirth. There’s risk in every pregnancy and every birth; it’s not possible to entirely eliminate risk by being in a hospital. It is possible to minimize intervention by staying out of hospitals, though.
There are some benefits to doing the deed at home:
1) Giving birth at home can be less expensive than giving birth in a hospital.
2) Getting to the hospital while in labour can be painful/uncomfortable or very difficult.
3) Giving birth at home can give mom more control over what happens.
Here are some studies you can look up for more information A growing body of evidence demonstrates that, for low-risk women, home birth is at least as safe as hospital birth (Gyte & Dodwell, 2008). Risk is involved wherever birth takes place; somewhat different risks accrue in different settings. The question is whether, on balance, hospital birth is safer than home birth for low-risk women
The first, a nationwide cohort study of over half a million births in the Netherlands, concluded that “planned home birth in a low-risk population was not associated with higher perinatal mortality rates or an increased risk of admission to a NICU compared with planned hospital births” (de Jonge et al., 2009, p. 1181). The authors noted that the safety of home birth is enhanced by good referral and transportation systems, which facilitate transfer when needed.
The second study used data from the province of British Columbia on planned home births attended by registered midwives, and planned hospital births meeting the eligibility requirements for home births and attended by the same cohort of midwives and a matched sample of physician-attended planned hospital births (Janssen et al., 2009). The researchers likewise found that “planned home birth attended by a registered midwife was associated with very low and comparable rates of perinatal death and reduced rates of obstetric interventions and other adverse perinatal outcomes compared with planned hospital birth attended by a midwife or physician.”
Hospitals carry their own set of risks that aren’t ever mentioned in studies. Unfortunately, babies die and moms die there too. There are just not big articles about it because the big money is behind the hospitals. It is absolutely true that caesarian section rates and unnecessary interventions are way higher at hospitals. Hospitals CAUSE many complications then take the credit for “saving” the situation.
Here are some studies people can look up for more information.
Articles About Homebirth Amazon.com allows you to purchase digital copies of certain magazines and journals. By searching for homebirth safety you will have access to many studies you can read instantly.
The Cochrane Collaboration is the ultimate in evidence based research. This review of the research found no strong evidence of either homebirth or hospital birth being safer than the other. You can see all their recommendations for pregnancy and childbirth here.
The Midwives Alliance of North America maintains an extensive list of research about homebirth. You may be able to access some of the journals listed through your local library, or by getting a library card at a nearby university library.
Citizens for Midwifery maintains a list of resources regarding midwifery issues. Scrolling through this list will reveal several homebirth safety studies and fact sheets for you to use while educating yourself or others.
The Homebirth Reference Site maintains an index of homebirth research you can review. You can view the references, or click on them to see the research.
Read the study in BMJ using hospital births from the 70s and 80s. You can read the entire text of the study here: www.bmj.com/content/330/7505/1416
- This is a small list of the many myths about homebirth, like Bring Birth Home and My Best Birth’s “Advocacy & Research” resource list.
An excellent book is called “The Thinking Women’s Guide to a Better Birth.” Those Henci is a powerful women and opinionated, her book shows volumes of evidence based research about birth. Despite this body of literature, there are still some physicians who persist in torturing the data in an attempt to frame their personal opinions as “science.”
Research-oriented blogs & websites:
- Childbirth Connection: www.childbirthconnection.org
- Science & Sensibility: http://www.scienceandsensibility.org/
- Stand and Deliver: occasional research-oriented posts: http://rixarixa.blogspot.com/
- RH Reality Check: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/
- Academic OB/GYN: http://academicobgyn.com/
- Our Bodies, Our Blog: http://www.ourbodiesourblog.org/
- Women’s Health News (blog by a librarian): http://womenshealthnews.wordpress.com/
De Jonge, A., Van der Goes, B. Y., Ravelli, A. C. J., Amelink-Verburg, M. P., Mol, B. W., Nijhuis, J. G, et al. Perinatal mortality and morbidity in a nationwide cohort of 529,688 low-risk planned home and hospital births. British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 2009; 116 (9):1177–1184.
Janssen, P. A., Saxell, L, Page, L. A., Klein, M. C., Liston, R. M, Lee, S. K. Outcomes of planned home birth with registered midwife versus planned hospital birth with midwife or physician. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2009; 181(6–7):377–383.