Let’s get right to it: Is it safe to give birth at home? Well, that depends on the mother, her midwife and which studies you read. Two home birth studies have been published recently, giving us lots to talk about. The more recent study, published in The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, looked at Centers for Disease Control data (almost 14 million births), and concluded that the risk of neonatal death is four times higher with midwife home births than midwife hospital births.
Another study examined data from almost 17,000 women who had planned home births. They found that these women had more vaginal births and fewer interventions, compared to women who had hospital births. The research is published in the Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health.
Confused? What you should know is that the success and safety of any home birth comes down to three essential factors: the right mama-to-be, the right midwife, and an excellent emergency backup plan.
Are you the right fit for a home birth?
You're only a good candidate if…
- You’re 100% healthy. You don’t have diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, an autoimmune disorder or any other health condition that could potentially complicate your birth or your baby’s health. Some home birth midwives will deliver women who’ve had a previous C-section, are obese or are carrying twins, but others won't because these things increase the potential for complications.
- You’re certain you won’t want pain medicine or an epidural. Having a home birth means an epidural or even IV pain medication isn’t possible. Home births are natural births. Always.
- Your partner/husband is supportive of a home birth. If your baby’s father is uncomfortable with home birth, or afraid for your and your baby’s safety even after he’s consulted with your midwife, then choosing a home birth is unfair. This is a huge parenting decision that you should agree on.
- You can afford to pay your midwife out-of-pocket. Insurance providers don’t generally cover home births, though they cost a lot less than hospital births.
- You’re dedicated to having a normal physiologic birth and willing to work with your body and midwifery team to make that happen. This includes having excellent prenatal care with a qualified midwife. It also means you have a home that can accommodate everything you’ll need to have a great birth (being able to eat and drink, walk and rest, change positions, bathe, have privacy and room for your labor support team…whatever it takes to get ‘er done).