Is home birth a safe option?

Q: Is having a baby at home safe? I'm seven months pregnant, and when I told my obstetrician I was considering this option, he laughed at me and said I'd be endangering my baby and myself.

A: There are a few issues I'd like to address here. First off, any doctor who laughs at you should be fired. Period. Now for the next issue: Yes, home birth can be a safe experience as long as you meet certain criteria: You must be in good health and carrying only one baby, with that baby in the vertex (head-down) position; you must have had no previous uterine surgery, such as a Cesarean section; and you must be ready to be an active partner in your labor experience.

That said, home birth definitely is not for everyone, so please find a doctor or midwife with whom you can have an intelligent discussion of your options. My personal opinion is that for a select group of families, home birth can even be safer than a hospital delivery. I also believe that if more hospitals would meet their patients' needs with greater kindness and less intervention, fewer people would consider home birth.