Study: Planned Home Births OK

09.02.09 For low-risk women, delivering at home is just as safe as giving birth in a hospital

New research suggests that home births with the help of a registered midwife are as safe as deliveries in hospitals, The Los Angeles Times reports.

The Canadian study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, compared home births attended by midwives, hospital deliveries by midwives and deliveries by physicians in hospitals, all in British Columbia. Among the three groups, the newborn death rate (less than 1 percent) was about the same. (There was one death in the home birth group; three in the hospital midwife group; and three in the doctor group.)

The study also suggests that women who planned a home birth were less likely to experience a postpartum hemorrhage. Plus, their babies were less likely to suffer a birth trauma or require resuscitation at birth or oxygen therapy.

Experts are hoping that these findings may help increase confidence in the safety of midwives and home births in the United States. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other U.S. health associations are opposed to home births, citing medical risks.

Advocates for this cause have long argued that a home birth is a smart choice for many healthy women at low risk for delivery complications. Especially for women looking to avoid medical interventions such as an induction or a Cesarean section. You just have to remember that there are some trade-offs for doing it at home.

Regardless, more and more women are defying convention and doctors' guidelines and choosing home births. Here, read about three real women's ups and downs of delivering their way.

Maria Vega is Fit Pregnancy magazine's copy editor.