Home birth has been embraced by many natural mamas and is increasing in popularity… again!
Home birth was the norm until the early part of the 20th century when women started going to the hospital (and sometimes not making it there!) to give birth. So home birth is the traditional way of birthing a baby but, is it safe?
Home birth is a safe choice for most women
Studies are piling up that show home birth is very safe for low risk women. In fact, British regulators are urging women to consider home birth because home birth can be safer than a hospital birth for many women. But how?
Midwifery care lowers the risk for interventions
Midwifery care has been shown to lower the risk of medical interventions for low risk women. One reason may be that fear of childbirth slows labor (more about this later). Being at home or a home-like environment without beeps and wires, can help mom to relax and feel safe. Another reason is that care is simply better. Midwifery care is evidence based care which is very different from the standard care of US hospitals. Evidence based care doesn’t routinely rupture membranes, induce without cause, or inhibit mom from moving or eating and drinking. None of these interventions are evidence based yet hospitals routinely perform them. And finally, hospitals have protocol and policies. It’s difficult for staff to give individual care when they have to adhere to these guidelines. Hospitals are businesses that need to function profitably. Birth is sometimes slow and always unpredictable. Keeping labor on a timeline helps keep things moving along. Midwifery care for home birth or birth center birth is individualized and encourages labor to begin on it’s own and progress on it’s own, assuming everything is normal.
Midwives are trained professionals
Home birth doesn’t mean there is no help available if something unexpectedly goes wrong. There are many studies that show that perinatal outcomes for low risk women in planned home birth are as good or better than those from planned hospital births. Women who plan a home birth or birth center birth know that if a complication arises that would make a hospital birth safer (preeclampsia, twins, preterm birth) their midwife will tell them and make the arrangements. Midwives are trained to notice complications at each prenatal appointment so that they can discuss transferring care if needed. During labor they will also keep monitoring you and baby to be sure labor is progressing normally. Midwives are trained to notice complications before they become emergent. In fact, most transfers are not emergencies which means you and your partner can have time to discuss options and make peace with your decision. Midwives are also prepared with oxygen, medications to stop bleeding, supplies to start an IV, and resuscitation skills if needed and will not hesitate to call 911 in an emergency. In fact, midwives carry with them almost all of the emergency supplies that a hospital has, excluding a cesarean section and NICU team.