Homebirth: How Risky Is It?
Just shy of a mere few years ago, women would have never dreamed of giving birth at a hospital. Hospitals were considered little better than morgues, full of germs and a place where people entered, only never to return. Birth, with its emotions, intense highs and lows, and overwhelming joy, just didn’t fit into that picture. A homebirth was the standard of care, and anything else was considered irresponsible and downright scary.
Today, however, the opposite is often true. Women who choose homebirth are often looked at quizzically or in some cases, accused of endangering their baby.
As a labor and delivery nurse, I can admit that I do have concerns about homebirth. That’s not to say I would ever say that I am against homebirth, as I fully believe that women and families need to be their own birth advocate, but I will admit that I am a bit scared of what a homebirth entails. I’ve seen enough emergency cases to fear the worst of what could happen in a matter of seconds at home, away from access to life-saving emergency equipment.
That being said, however, I will also admit that sometimes, intense and unnecessary hospital interventions can contribute to emergencies during labor and delivery, so I am fully aware of the chicken-or-the-egg dilemma when it comes to homebirth arguments.
The bottom line is, I’m no homebirth expert. So I did a little digging to uncover some statistics about homebirth.
- According to the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), homebirth is one the rise, jumping up 29% in the last five years
- Less than 1% of births occur in the home.
- Homebirth has a lower “risk profile than hospital birth—meaning that the women who choose homebirth are generally healthy, with no other complications during the pregnancy.
- A 2011 study by the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology concluded that the lack of medical intervention during planned homebirths led to a tripling of infant mortality.
- Interestingly, the study also found that planned homebirths led to less maternal complications, including lacerations, hemorrhage, episiotomies, c-sections and infections.
- For babies, the study found that planned homebirths were associated with less frequent prematurity, low birthweights, and assisted newborn ventilation.
Would you ever consider a homebirth?
Image via Flickr [eyeliam]