Home Birth May Be Safer Than Hospital Birth, Says New Review

James Johnson

As the father of a young daughter born through a home birth, I think that home birth can be safer than hospital birth. A new Cochrane Library review agrees, suggesting that home birth is a realistic and safe option with fewer complications and interventions than a hospital birth.

According to the new review on the safety of home birth, women with low risk pregnancies should be given accurate information to make an informed decision about the location in which they give birth: at home, in a hospital, or in a birth center.

The review even goes as far as to state that all countries should consider setting up proper home birth services for low-risk pregnancies that are organized as part of the healthcare system. As previous research on home birth has indicated, properly trained midwives are essential for the safe outcome of home births.

For women with low risk pregnancies whose home birth is planned with an experienced midwife available and with medical back up ready in case of the need for emergency medical transport, there is no strong evidence either to support or to disfavor home birth over hospital birth.

Additionally, women who give birth at home have 20 to 60 percent fewer interventions including cesarean sections, inductions and augmentations, and epidurals than women who give birth in a hospital. Each medical intervention, although potentially life-saving, increases the risk for complications during the labor and birth.

As midwifery lecturer PhD Jette Aaroe Clausen argues:

"Patience is important if women want to avoid interference and give birth spontaneously. At home the temptation to make unnecessary interventions is reduced. The woman avoids for example routine electronic monitoring that may easily lead to further interventions in birth."

Would you ever choose a home birth?