The Truth about Having Your Baby at Home
Today, scientists are conducting studies that demonstrate again and again what women have known throughout history: Birthing your baby is a natural process, not a cause for medical intervention. After decades of subscribing to the “medical model,” more and more women are turning to the midwifery model of natural and home birth as a safer, less distressing and more natural choice for delivering babies.
Statistics on Home Birth and Medical Intervention
In 2000, a study involving 5,418 women who planned to give birth at home with certified midwives was conducted in North America . The results of the study demonstrated that planned home birth with certified midwives involved lower rates of medical intervention than low risk hospital births.
The study found:
- Episiotomies (Incisions to widen the vaginal opening) were involved in 2.1% of home births versus 33.0% of hospital births.
- 3.7% of home births involved caesarean section compared to 19% of hospital births.
- Vacuum extraction was involved in 0.6% of home births versus 5.5% of hospital births.
- 9.6% of home births involved electronic fetal monitoring, compared to 84.3% of hospital births.
- Only 12. 1% or 655 out of 5,418 women planning for home birth had to be transferred to the hospital before, during or after labor and birth.
These statistics show that home births typically involve a much lower rate of medical intervention. Other statistics clearly show home birth is just as safe as hospital birth for both babies and Moms.
A 1997 study produced similar results . A study involving almost 25,000 births in five different countries compared planned home births with planned hospital births.
As in the 2000 study, there was no difference in survival rates between home birth babies and hospital birth babies and no maternal deaths. But the home births involved far fewer medical interventions: there were much lower rates of vaginal incisions, cesarean sections and vacuum extractions in the home births. Mothers were also much less likely to have induced labors or to be medicated during labor with home birth.
Cesarean Sections Rates are On the Rise in Hospitals
On a local as well as a national level, more and more Moms are finding out first hand, cesarean sections are at an all time high and the numbers keep on growing.
If you’re planning to deliver naturally with a hospital birth, the odds of a vaginal delivery are becoming slimmer and slimmer. The birth culture in today’s hospitals and a cascade of medical interventions make it less and less likely Moms will deliver naturally in hospital settings.
In 2007, the national rate of cesarean deliveries was 30.3% . That’s a 50% increase over the past decade. Today about one in three mothers are giving birth by c-section.
If you’re a Mom preparing to give birth in Los Angeles County, you should know that top private hospitals in L.A. have a higher rate of cesarean deliveries than other hospitals . At Cedars-Sinai, 36.4% of all mothers delivered by cesarean in 2007.
The results of these and other studies and recent statistics make it clear: home birth is a safe alternative to hospital birth that typically involves far less medical intervention and far fewer cesarean deliveries.
Why is Home Birth Safer and Less Complicated?
During labor, the body naturally releases hormones that play a vital role in delivery. Oxytocin and endorphins are most likely to be released according to a delivering mother’s needs at home. This means the Mom delivering at home experiences less discomfort and distress during labor and delivery.
By contrast, in a hospital setting a woman’s body is likely to secrete adrenalin. Adrenalin causes levels of oxytocin and endorphins to drop. The delivering Mom feels more pain and labor may be slowed down as a result. The medical model may view this slowing down as a “failure” to deliver, and medical interventions are then taken to speed the process up.
In a hospital setting, the staff are trained to expect things to go wrong so are more likely to be looking for problems during labor instead of focusing on facilitating the natural course of labor (as in the midwifery model). This big difference in perception may be why hospital births involve much higher rates of medical intervention.
Over 99% of women who have given birth both at home and in the hospital opt for home birth for future deliveries. They are more comfortable, feel safer and more secure, and are more satisfied with the home birth experience.
Research is starting to support what women have known for millions of years – that birth isn’t a medical event, it’s a natural process. For many mothers and their babies, home birth is the safest, natural option.
 Outcomes of planned home births with certified professional midwives: large prospective study in North America. Kenneth C Johnson, senior epidemiologist, Betty-Anne Daviss, project manager. BMJ 2005;330:1416 (18 June), doi:10.1136/bmj.330.7505.1416
 Source: Gregory, Kimberly D., Chan, Linda, Kahn, Katherine L., Ramicone, Emily.
American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 1999. Available at: http://www.faqs.org/abstracts/Health.