Safety Of Home Birth

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Midwives in Ontario, Canada, have been providing care for expectant mothers in both home and hospital settings. They have been integrated into the provincial health-care system since 1994.

A recent study ... reveals that low-risk women giving birth with the assistance of midwives have positive outcomes regardless of where the delivery takes place ... It concludes that home birth is as safe as hospital delivery.

... newborns and mothers were no more likely to suffer complications than their counterparts in a clinical setting.

... "As birth made its way into hospital without any clear evidence that it was a safer place to be, home birth has become more and more discouraged. I think for women who want to make that choice, it's important to have good information about those aspects of care."

... The researchers compared 6,692 home birth women with 6,692 hospital birth women. Both groups were at low risk for complications. Findings suggested that the risk of death was very low for mother and child in both the hospital and home settings. The mortality rate was one per 1,000 live births in both cases. No maternal deaths were reported in either group.

The study examined the occurrence of serious complications, such as death, need for immediate medical care after birth, neonatal resuscitation, admission to a pediatric intensive care unit and low birth weight. It was lower in the home birth group (2.3 percent) compared to the hospital group (2.8 percent). It was also the case for all interventions with 5.2 percent home birth compared to 8.1 percent hospital, including cesarean section.

... The criteria for home birth are set by the College of Midwives of Ontario. Ineligible women for home birth include:

• Twin pregnancy • Breech or medically complicated pregnancies • Women with more than one previous cesarean section • Women with gestation less than 37 weeks • Women with gestation more than 43 weeks at the onset of birth

Melissa Maimann, Essential Birth Consulting 0400 418 448