Home Birth May Be Best for Low Risk Pregnancy

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pregnant womanHere in the US, while rates of homebirth are constantly rising, there's still a large stigma attached that suggests that it's unsafe, even for normal, low-risk pregnancies. Heck, there are some people who have said (very wrongly) that elective c-sections are safer than home births. Eek!

So I'm crushing a little on the University of Oxford Dr. Peter Brocklehurst. He said, "Birth isn't an abnormal process, it's a physiological process. And if your pregnancy and labor is not complicated, then you don't need a high level of specific expertise."

His study showed that 50 percent of women were in no more danger when having a home birth than if they gave birth at a hospital.

Yes, this study was in Britain, but since we're all human, American moms -- this means you too. However, they do point out that in their maternity system, most births (60 percent) are attended by midwives, and birthing centers are much, much more common. Here in the US, not only are most of our births in hospitals, but training of midwives varies state to state. Some states don't even have any regulations on teachings. So a British midwife may be trained in many more methods than an American nurse-midwife attending an OB. We also have fewer birth centers in America, which could be why.

The study looked at 64,500 mothers, all low risk (no twins or needed c-sections), divided relatively evenly between hospital, home birth, and free-standing birthing centers, they found there was almost no difference in the health of the baby with where the mother gave birth. Of the women who did transfer to a hospital, only 10 percent were because of fetal distress. The rest were because of maternal fatigue or the desire for an epidural after a long labor -- 45 percent of first time mothers transferred, but only 12 percent of experienced moms did, showing that it's more of a "faith in your body and ability" issue than anything.

A slightly higher risk of complications for first-time home birthers was also noted, but those risks also disappeared with subsequent birthing moms, so again, maybe education of the process or ability to relax has something to do with it?

But a biggie -- more than 11 percent of the low-risk women who chose a hospital ended up with a c-section, compared to 2.8 percent of the women who birthed at or started at home. That kind of number is one of the reasons many women choose home birth.

Unlike the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology who is staunchly anti-home birth, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynocologogists states that they approve of appropriately selected home birth. Very cool.

Really, I'd like to see our country, instead of demonizing things, look instead to further proper education so those things can be intelligently supported. There are a lot of countries out there with much better birth ratings than we have, so I'm more than willing to look to them for advice. So far, many of these countries think that home birth, or birthing centers, are not only fine but even appropriate and perfectly safe for at least half of women, who are considered "low-risk," or what I like to call typical ... or even normal. That said, if you CHOOSE a hospital, more power to you -- but don't be scared into that choice.

Do you think home birth is safe for "low risk" women?


Image via davhor/Flickr

delivery, homebirth, labor & delivery

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Lavina Christenson

I totally agree katewhitley, hospitals treat birth as a medical proceedure (as it often turns into), whereas midwives treat it as a natural life process that they are simply there to assist. Trust your body, and you can get through it! I also highly reccoment water births (midwives epidural). i was 7cm when i got to the birth center, and after I got into the water, it eased the pain so much that I was chatting and joking again (and my daughter was not small... almost 9 pounds 14" head circumfrence)

Eques... EquestrianMom

I had my son at a birth center, and the next one I have will be at home. I am more comfortable not in a hospital (they just make me nervous, its where I go when I am really sick) I had a great birth at the center, and I am sure I will have a great one at home as well. Birth is natural, and it is a womans decision as to where she wants to have her child, IMO. As a side note, the DR who worked with our birth center was pushing close to the day of my due date (estimated) to have an induction, not for any reason, just because I was "due". I chose to to wait, had a healthy, 7lb, 12 oz boy on my exact due date, no "help" needed.

Kristyn Moore

I had a home birth, this is my first child, and there were absolutely NO problems. My midwife was excellent and my son was perfectly healthy. My son just turned 1 yr. old and I am also still breastfeeding. Keep spreading the word about home birthing and we will see a trend in healthier babies! All we mothers need is to support each other and we can do almost anything! = ]

Stacey. Stacey.

It is not safe. You dont have to have a high risk pregnancy for the baby to inhale meconium, or the mom have a massive hemhorrage, and the other 1 million things that "could" go wrong that "could" be corrected IMMEDIATELY in a hospital or medical center!

nonmember avatar nyflowergirl

For those who have forgotten women have been delivering for centuries at home. The hospitals put a certain stigma around the birthing process. So much so women think they don't know what they are doing and need these hospitalized interventions. Interventions lead to complications when not warranted. Trust in the human body, it knows what to do. At home,in the car, at the hospital,even in your sleep. Birth is natural and beautiful. Don't complicate something that doesn't need to be.

pumpk... pumpkinbutter

The thing to do is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY of ALL THINGS when thinking of home birth!!! My first child was attempted with a midwife, she was AWFUL, we ended up goign to the hospital...which was good because he needed rescusitation...my second went AWESOME at HOME, 8 hours labor, apgar of 10 at birth, and breastfed 10 months....my third we attempted a home birth again and we ended up going in because my water broke and I didn't go into labor, turns out he contracted strep b while in uterus and would've died if we didn't go in! He was on a 10 day antibiotic but he is well now! 7 1/2 weeks old and 14 lbs and 25 inches long!

Stacey. Stacey.

KristynMoore" Keep spreading the word about home birthing and we will see a trend in healthier babies"


Where in the Hell did you get that from? References please! I could eat alphabets and shit a more accurate statement LMAO

Liz May

I was a first time mum who had a great homebirth in the UK.  What gave me the confidence to do this is the fact that if there was a problem I'd be taken to my local National Heath Service hospital in an Ambulance and arrive within 15 mins. Secondly I would be guaranteed to be attended by two NHS community midwives.  The community midwives tend to be older ladies and therefore much more experienced.  Homebirth is so safe in the UK because we have a fantastic healthcare system that supports it (in general) if you qualify - that is your are under forty, not obese and in good general health.  Maternal Obesity is the biggest and growing threat to natural birth.

Other... OtherMonkey

This debate is tiresome.  I chose a hospital because of the accessibility to professionals with the expertise and tools to help if something went wrong.  I had a normal, low risk pregnancy and everything was smooth.  I was about 8 days overdue when I went into labour on my own.  I laboured for about 30 hours and pushed for just over 1.  No one at the hospital at any time did anything to try and push drugs on me, mention a section or pictocin to speed things along and I did it in a room to myself.  AND I walked out with my child and no bill to pay for giving birth.  If a mom is more comfortable doing it in her own bed, blow up pool or bathtub, more power to them but I just don't believe that a hospital is riskier than at home.

nonmember avatar Anonimato

If the american culture was different, doctors could practice medicine the way they see fit, and not thinking how to avoid getting sued, then maybe home births would be a viable option. As long as defensive medicine is the norm this won't happen. That's the huge difference between socialized medicine like Europe and the US. As for home vs hospital, let each woman choose what they feel comfortable with a live with the consequences of their choice. Home birth with a good outcome: excellent for both mom and baby. Homebirth with a mom that hemorrhages post delivery: not so good for either. We don't have statistics about how our overweight, older moms do with homebirths because there is no central records for this. Advocate for this so people can then make a truly educated desicion home vs hospital birth. I had my epidural within 90 minutes of arriving to the hospital for my first (and only) at 3 cm. Had a fetal scalp electrode and NICU at delivery and pushed my baby out in 20 minutes less than 6.5 hrs after walking into the hospital. I didn't earn or loose any prizes or ribbons for having a hospital medicated birth. I have a 19+ month old who I still breastfeed to this day. To each their own.

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