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Home births

Study finds that home births are safer than hospital births

Friday, July 05, 2013 by: Michael Ravensthorpe
Tags: home births, midwives, childbirth

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(NaturalNews) A century ago, home births were the norm in the United States. Women would give birth to their babies in a comforting, familiar setting under the personal care of midwives. Fast forward to 1969, however, and 99 percent of all US mothers - having been exposed to propaganda claiming that hospital births were safer than home births - were having their babies in hospitals. There's just one problem, though: Hospital births weren't safer than home births. Moreover, according to new study published in the June 2013 edition of the British Medical Journal, they still aren't.

Home births result in fewer complications

Keen to ascertain whether home births resulted in fewer complications than hospital births, the 2013 study's researchers decided to investigate incidences of severe complications among nearly 150,000 Dutch mothers who gave birth between 2004 and 2006. Nearly 63 percent of these mothers had home births, while 37.1 percent had hospital births. The researchers were specifically searching for instances of 'acute maternal morbidity,' or times when the complications were so severe that the mother required intensive care.

The researchers discovered that incidences of acute maternal morbidity occurred in 3.1 out of every 1,000 hospital births, but only in 2.3 out of every 1,000 home births. They also found that severe complications during home births were even less common for second-time mothers.

"This research should be encouraging providers and commissioners of maternity services to put more resources into providing women with a real choice of having a home birth, because at present we know many women who would want one often cannot have one because of a lack of midwives," concluded Cathy Warwick, the chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives.

Earlier studies reached the same conclusion

Though the June 2013 study is arguably the largest study on the home birth issue to date, it is not the first. In fact, it is simply the latest in a string of recent studies which prove that home births are equal to, and often safer, than hospital births. A 2009 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, for instance, found that babies born at home (under the supervision of qualified midwives) had a reduced risk of death than babies born in hospitals. Another study, published in 2012, revealed that home births resulted in a reduced risk of medical intervention.

While home births are not suited to everyone (high-risk births, for example, are better suited to hospitals), it is easy to understand their growing popularity. After all, the birthing process is unpleasant enough for mothers without them having to endure it in an impersonal, clinical environment filled with staff who are often overworked and rushed. Giving birth from home might not ease the physical pain of childbirth, but devoted care in a comforting environment will certainly provide psychological benefits that reduce overall stress.

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About the author:
Michael Ravensthorpe is an independent writer whose research interests include nutrition, alternative medicine, and bushcraft. He is the creator of the website, Spiritfoods, through which he promotes the world's healthiest foods.

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