A home birth is childbirth in a non-clinical setting, typically taking place in a residence rather than in a hospital or a birth center. Professionals attending home births can be obstetricians, certified midwives and doulas.
Women with access to hospital medical care may choose home birth because they prefer the intimacy of the experience, but according to a study published in the British Medical Journal, soon-to-be mothers whose pregnancies are deemed low-risk for serious complications may what to consider a home birth in lieu of one in a clinical setting as it might actually be safer.
Possible risks associated with pregnancy can include uterine rupture, eclampsia, or a major obstetric hemorrhage.
The evidence regarding safety is difficult to interpret, as it is dependent on the country setting of care provided – posing the counterargument that should the worst occur and medical intervention is necessary, the greater risk is not being able to get mother to the hospital where that care is available.
However, contrary to popular belief, hospitals are not the cleanest of environments and can be host to an array of illness-causing contaminations – posing a potential and unnecessary threat to both mother and newborn.
Netherland researchers compared the outcomes for 92,333 women who had a planned home birth to 54,419 who had a planned hospital birth between 2004 and 2006. The pregnancies were evaluated as part of “Severe Adverse Maternal Outcomes among Low Risk Women with Planned Home Versus Hospital Births in the Netherlands: Nationwide Cohort Study.”
Contrary to what the researchers were expecting, the rate of serious complications was lower for women who gave birth at home, provided that this wasn’t their first child.
For women who had previously given birth, the risk of severe outcomes for home births was one per 1,000; for hospital births, it was 2.3 per 1,000. This represented a reduction in risk of 58.3 percent. The rate per 1,000 for postpartum hemorrhage was 19.6 for home births, compared to 37.6 for hospitals, a 47.9 percent reduction. The rates per 1,000 for manual removal of the placenta were 8.5 and 19.6, respectively, representing a risk reduction of 56.9 percent.
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