Home Birth, Birth At Home

Yes, home birth isn't for everyone, but neither is a hospital birth.

Home Birth Studies

There was no increase in the risk to the mother or baby in midwife assisted home births in a 1998 British Columbia study. (Janssen PA, Lee SK, Ryan EM, Etches DJ, Farquharson DF, Peacock D, Klein MC. - Centre for Community Health and Health Evaluation Research, BC Research Institute for Children's and Women's Health, Vancouver)

In a study of several thousand women, home birth success rates 12.1% women who intended to deliver at home were transferred to hospital.

  • epidural (4.7%),
  • episiotomy (2.1%),
  • forceps (1.0%),
  • vacuum extraction (0.6%)
  • and caesarean section (3.7%)

These rates are much lower than for low risk US women who are having hospital births. The conclusion is that planned home birth for low risk women in North America using certified professional midwives was associated with lower rates of medical intervention. The death rate for mothers and babies for home birth was the same for hospital birth with the low risk mothers. (Outcomes of planned home births with certified professional midwives: large prospective study in North America. Johnson KC, Daviss BA. - Surveillance and Risk Assessment Division, Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, Public Health Agency of Canada, PL 6702A, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1A OK9)

A study in the Netherlands concludes that women who had their first child at home, have safer pregnancy outcomes when they have their second child at home rather than in the hospital (Outcome of planned home and planned hospital births in low risk pregnancies Prospective study in midwifery practices in The Netherlands. Wiegers TA, Keirse MJ, van der Zee J, Berghs GA.)

Reasons Why Home birth (or birth Center) is Preferable

More technology in the hospital does not lead to better outcomes. One midwife remarked that if the hospital has some kind of fancy machine, then they find a way to use it. Hospitals who don't have expensive machines, don't use them, and don't need them.

Feeling Comfortable Helps Dilation

When the mother feels comfortable during her birth, then she will dilate more easily. Ina May related the experience of birthing to the experience of going to the bathroom. One has to relax for it to happen. Likewise, women must choose where they feel comfortable to give birth, not where they feel obligated to give birth. For some women it will be at home, other women a birth center, and for still others, a hospital. If you want to birth at home or in a birth center, there is no reason why not to.

Less Interventions

As the study above indicates on transfer rates. Even when a home birth doesn't go as planned and the women needs to go to a hospital, the rates of interventions are extremely low, the cesarean rate being 3.7%. Compare that with the average United States cesarean rate of close to 30%. One reason why there is likely to be less interventions is because hospitals are businesses designed to make a profit. Not all, but many. The more interventions, the more profitable the birth.

A curios note: some countries allow women to give birth in a hospital without a doctor, or even by themselves. This way, there is the real comfort of trusting the birth process, and back-up in case of emergency. We must ask ourselves as a culture why we have lost trust in the birth process, and why in hospitals we must "manage" a women's birth.

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