By: Diana Barnes-Brown for Uterus1
Many women are curious about home birth, and it’s not unusual for expecting moms to say they would prefer to experience the process of labor and delivery in a familiar place, rather than the unfamiliar, and at times frightening, confines of a hospital. But a lot of these women are talked out of home births by concerned family, friends and doctors, who fear for the health of mother and baby.
But recent research on home births has shown that these fears may not be realistic. A new study has turned up good news for soon-to-be moms who hope to stay out of the delivery room and give birth at home.
Study authors Kenneth C. Johnson and Betty-Anne Daviss and colleagues from the Surveillance and Risk Assessment Division at the Public Health Agency of Canada examined data from the North American Registry of Midwives on more than 5,418 home births in the United States and Canada in the year 2000, and compared the outcomes of these births to those of low-risk hospital births.
They found that rates of medical intervention (such as episiotomy, use of forceps, epidural use and caesarian section) were lower in the home births attended by certified midwives than in hospital births. The planned home births also had a low rate of mortality comparable to that of low-risk hospital births. More than 87 percent of the women did not require transfer to a hospital.
In addition to the medical safety, the Canadian team found that home births had a very high rate of maternal satisfaction. Uncomplicated hospital births also cost roughly three times as much as home births.
Because midwives are traditionally not integrated into the healthcare system in North America, this study offers much needed evidence on the safety of midwife attended home births. The study is the largest of its kind ever conducted, and the large number of participants means that the data is better able to be generalized.
“Our study of certified professional midwives suggests that they achieve good outcomes among low-risk women without routine use of expensive hospital interventions,” wrote the authors. The new findings are supported by prior recommendations from researchers in the United States, noted the authors, who wrote “this evidence supports the American Public Health Association’s recommendation to increase access to out of hospital maternity care services with direct entry midwives in the United States.”