Homebirth: Is it Safer Than Hospital Birth?

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In Australia, most women birth their babies in hospital. More and mroe, we're reading media reports and articles about homebirth and more and more women are curious about homebirth as a birth option. There is still a lot of fear around homebirth and birth in general. Some misconceptions persist around the safety of homebirth, and common reactions to homebirth include, "Is that safe?" "What if something goes wrong?" Or, "It wasn't too long ago that many mothers and babies died in childbirth. Go to hospital. It's much safer there."

However, a lot of research from Australia and overseas (The Netherlands, UK and Canada) is acrually showing that home birth is at least as safe as hospital birth for women who are well, whose pregnancies are normal, who are attended by a midwife and who have ready access to a hospital if needed.

I think there's confusion about plannign a homebirth and having a homebirth. Planning a homebirth doesn't mean the baby is definitely going to be born at home. For many reasons, some women will choose to brith in hospital or their midwife will advise them that in their situation, hospital will be the safer option. This could be for reasons such as high blood pressure, a baby who's not growing well, twins, a breech baby, going over 42 weeks and so on.

Numerous studies show many advantages of home birth. The birth generally occurs with much less intervention than what occurs in a standard hospital birth. This in itself is a huge benefit as all interventions carry risks. The birth experience is generally much more satisfying for the family, leading to a positive start to motherhood. breastfeeding rates are higher and this does have important benefits for mothers and babies and society in general.

Birthing is a normal and healthy bodily function. As with other bodily functions such as digestion, defecation, wound healing and so on, while they are normal and healthy most of the time, we do monitor them to make sure they don't deviate from normal, and if there's a deviation, well, we head to the doctor, naturopath or other therapist to get the help we need. We don't go to hospital or take laxatives on a regular basis just in case we might become constipated. Nor do we request stitches for a scratch just in case the wound doesn't heal. And as yet it's not common to have feeding tubes inserted to bypass chewing and swallowing. So why do we birth in hospital when we're healthy?

Hospitals are for sick people, people who need operations, people who have infections and so on. If we are experiencing a normal, healthy bodily function, why do we routinely head for the hospital? It is not a logical place to put newborns and labouring women.

Birth at home, with qualified midwives, is a much better option for women who are having normal pregnancies and labours.

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