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Home Births with Midwife Safe As Hospital for Babies, Fewer Infections and Less Bleeding for Moms

Wednesday, September 09, 2009 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: home births, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has a long-standing opposition to home births. In fact, their official statement released last year actually accuses women who want a home birth of placing "the process of giving birth over the goal of having a healthy baby". The statement goes on to say "ACOG believes that the safest setting for labor, delivery, and the immediate postpartum period is in the hospital, or a birthing center within a hospital complex..."

While ACOG may "believe" whatever that organization wants to, it would be more professional for them to base their policy on science-based facts. New research shows planned home births attended by registered midwives is every bit as safe as a hospital birth for babies. What's more, it appears to be a whole lot safer for moms.

A study just published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) looked at 2889 home births attended by regulated midwives in British Columbia, Canada, and 4752 planned hospital births attended by the same cohort of midwives. Then Dr. Patricia Janssen from the University of British Columbia and her research colleagues compared the outcomes with 5331 physician-attended births in hospital.

The results? Newborns born at home where the home birth was planned and a registered midwife was on hand were at similar or reduced risk of death than babies born in a hospital. And the moms who gave birth at home had a significantly lower risk of obstetric interventions and adverse outcomes, including induced labor, electronic fetal monitoring, epidural analgesia, assisted vaginal delivery, cesarean section, infections and bleeding.

"Women planning birth at home experienced reduced risk for all obstetric interventions measured, and similar or reduced risk for adverse maternal outcomes," Dr. Patricia Janssen wrote in the CMAJ article.

The authors of the study pointed out there may be factors in the home environment that decrease risks to moms and babies but these factors are not yet well-understood. For example, it could be that women with healthy, natural lifestyles may be the ones who most likely choose home births -- and may be most likely to have safe home births.

"We do not underestimate the degree of self-selection that takes place in a population of women choosing home birth. This self-selection may be an important component of risk management for home birth," the researchers stated. They also wrote in their research article that the fact registered midwives screen women who want to have home births to make sure it is the appropriate decision could contribute to the safety of home births.

It's not only America's ACOG that opposes home births. The Australian and New Zealand Colleges of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also are against babies being born at home. However, the United Kingdom's Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Royal College of Midwives are supportive, and so are midwife organizations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Canada's Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has encouraged research into the safety of home birth, and the new study is part of that directive.

"Our population rate of less than one perinatal death per 1000 births may serve as a benchmark to other jurisdictions as they evaluate their home birth programs," the authors concluded.

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