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What You Need to Know When Considering a Home Birth

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/24/2006 | Kids & Teens
Are you contemplating a home birth? Perhaps like many women in North America you are seeking to avoid invasive medical treatments and desire a relaxed, warm environment to welcome your child into.

If this is the first home birth you are considering it is wise to ask questions regarding the safety of the home birth experience. What should you consider before deciding and what steps should you take to ensure the health of yourself and your infant?

IS HOME BIRTH AS SAFE AS HOSPITAL DELIVERY?

The answer, according to a study performed by Kenneth Johnson of the Public Health Agency of Canada and Betty-Anne Daviss of the Safe Motherhood/Newborn Initiative, is that home births can be a safe option for low risk pregnancies.

The research conducted on 5418 women in the US and Canada showed that home births resulted in lower medical intervention than similar low risk births in hospitals. That means less epidurals, episiotomies, forceps deliveries, vacuum extractions, and caesarean sections than those given to women with low risk pregnancies who delivered in the hospital.

During the study only 12% of the women were transferred to hospital during labor or postpartum. All of the women in the study planned a home birth before labor and were attended to by a certified midwife.

Despite the lack of medical intervention, the health of the mother and infant was similar to the health of mother and baby who delivered in the hospital. If you are considering a home birth it is essential to have a registered nurse-midwife or doctor who is experienced in home birth deliveries to be present.

Still, professionals disagree on the safety of home births in America and despite the rising costs of doctors and hospital births, many feel that a birth belongs in the hospital rather than the home.

WHO MIGHT CONSIDER A HOME BIRTH?

Home births are only recommended as an option for low risk pregnancies. Traditionally, births were always made at home, among family and friends, but industrialization has changed the way many look at birth. Instead of considering a birth to be a medical emergency, it should be recognized as a natural process. When a woman with a low risk pregnancy arranges for professional midwife or physician care, a home birth can be considered a safe and natural process.

However, high risk pregnancies and lack of professional assistance will greatly increase the risk to both mother and child in a home birth. If you have complications with your pregnancy, including a previous caesarean, high blood pressure, diabetes or multiple gestation, a home birth should not be attempted.

Giving birth at home is an experience that women throughout the world and throughout history have shared. If you are interested in a home birth contact a midwife or speak to your obstetrician about your options.