Home Birth: Safety and Benefits
What are the Benefits of a Home Birth?
Opting for a home birth, facilitated by a midwife, can present women and their families with choices they oftentimes can’t find at a hospital. A midwife assists throughout the term of pregnancy, during the birth, and through postpartum as a counselor, obstetrician, friend, advocate, dietician, and teacher. Having a home birth is definitely more personal than delivering in the hospital. Concerning safety, statistics show that homebirth is safer than a hospital birth with fewer harmful and unnecessary interventions (see below).
- During your home birth you have the freedom to choose how and in what position you want to deliver.
- You get to choose what is or is not done to your baby.
- You choose who is present during your birth.
- You and your baby have the entire attention of your midwife, for as long as you need her.
- You are on your own “turf” where you make the rules.
- You have the opportunity to discover that you can cope with labor using your own resources and strengths.
- You have a caregiver who nurtures, encourages and supports you and who respects your right to participate fully in any decisions made about your care.
- You are much less likely to be subjected to procedures such as episiotomy or cesarean section that cause pain and debility.
- During your home birth, you and your midwife set the procedures. Unlike the hospital where you are expected to follow the hospital policies & procedures.
- During your home birth, the father is regarded as a necessary labor support person. As opposed to a hospital where the father may be “allowed” to be in the delivery room.
- A home birth will always allow for extensive pre- and post-natal visits. With a typical doctor/hospital birth, visits are often much shorter and limited.
New study published Jan. 2014 reveals more home birth safety statistics:
Among 16,924 women who planned home births at the onset of labor, 89.1% gave birth at home. The majority of intrapartum transfers were for failure to progress, and only 4.5% of the total sample required oxytocin augmentation and/or epidural analgesia. The rates of spontaneous vaginal birth, assisted vaginal birth, and cesarean were 93.6%, 1.2%, and 5.2%, respectively. Of the 1054 women who attempted a vaginal birth after cesarean, 87% were successful. Low Apgar scores (< 7) occurred in 1.5% of newborns. Postpartum maternal (1.5%) and neonatal (0.9%) transfers were infrequent. The majority (86%) of newborns were exclusively breastfeeding at 6 weeks of age. Excluding lethal anomalies, the intrapartum, early neonatal, and late neonatal mortality rates were 1.30, 0.41, and 0.35 per 1000, respectively.
More Research Results
In the U.S., an analysis of California data for 1989 and 1990 calculated that low-risk women opting for birth outside of a hospital had a slightly lower perinatal death rate — including births moved into the hospital for complications, compared with low-risk women managed by obstetricians in hospitals. Reference – Olsen O. Meta-analysis of the safety of home birth. Birth 1997;24(1):4-13.
Numerous studies comparing outcomes between low-risk women receiving standard obstetric management versus similar women receiving the less interventive, midwifery style of care have found that women and their babies receiving the midwifery style of care did equally well or better. Reference – Goer H. The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth. New York: Perigee Books, 1999.
Unnecessary Medical Interventions
A.M. Duran stated in The Farm Study, published in the American Journal of Public Health in March 1992, that “home births attended by lay midwives can be accomplished as safely as, and with less intervention than, physician-attended hospital deliveries.” Dr. Lewis Mehl compared matched populations of 2,092 home births and 2,092 hospital births. Midwives and family doctors attended the home births, while OB/GYNs and family doctors attended the hospital births. Within the hospital group, the fetal distress rate was 6 times higher, maternal hemorrhage was 3 times higher, limp unresponsive newborns arrived 3 times more often and there were 30 permanent birth injuries caused by doctors. In another study, Dr. Mehl compared matched groups of 1,046 home births with 1,046 hospital births. There was no difference in infant mortality. In the hospital births, there was greater incidence of fetal distress, lacerations to the mother, neonatal infections, forceps delivery, cesarean section, and nine times as many episiotomies. Read the full article by Lauri Smit
Yvonne Lapp Cryns also proves that statistically home birth with a midwife is the safest way to go and with fewer complications. Click Here to read the Cryns article
When it comes to your health and the health of your baby, the best care available is worth everything. However, the costs associated with having a home birth are typically much less than having a hospital birth. The midwifery fees are usually less than typical physician fees and the additional hospital expenses are not necassary. Please contact Nanci to discuss fees.