Birthowl’s natural childbirth

Homebirths Are Safe

Studies Indicate That Homebirths Are Safe

Myth #1 — Hospital births are statistically safer than homebirths. mom and baby
 Safety in childbirth is measured by how many mothers and babies die and how many survive childbirth in less than perfect health.

Studies done comparing hospital and out-of-hospital births indicate fewer deaths, injuries and infections for homebirths supervised by a trained attendant than for hospital births. No such studies indicate that hospitals have better outcomes than homebirths.

Respiratory distress among newborns was 17 times higher in the hospital than in the home.

The U.S. has the highest obstetrical intervention rates as well as a serious problem with malpractice suits.

While maternal death rates have vastly improved since the turn of the century, factors like proper nutrition and cleanliness have played a big part in the change.

Overall neonatal death rates have also improved since the 30s, but homebirths appeared to be safer even then. In 1939, Baylor Hospital Charity Service in Dallas, Texas, published a study that revealed a perinatal mortality rate of 26.6 per 1,000 live births in homes compared to a hospital birth mortality rate of 50.4 per 1,000.[1]

Since the 1970s, research done in northern California, Arizona, England and Tennessee all point to the relative safety of homebirth.[2] The only matched population study, comparing 1,046 homebirths with 1,046 hospital births, was published in 1977 by Dr. Lewis Mehl, a family physician and medical statistician.[3]

While neonatal and perinatal death rates were statistically the same in Mehl’s report, morbidity was higher in the hospital group: 3.7 times as many babies born in the hospital required resuscitation. Infection rates of newborns were four times higher in the hospital, and the incidence of respiratory distress among newborns was 17 times higher in the hospital than in the home.

A six-year study done by the Texas Department of Health for the years 1983-1989 revealed that the infant mortality rate for non-nurse midwives attending homebirths was 1.9 per 1,000 compared with the doctors’ rate of 5.7 per 1,000.[4] Certified nurse midwives’ mortality rate was 1 per 1,000 and “other” attendants accounted for 10.2 deaths per 1,000 live births.[5]

A study of 3,257 out-of-hospital births attended by Arizona licensed midwives between 1978-85 shows a perinatal mortality rate of 2.2 per 1,000 and a neonatal mortality rate of 1.1 per 1,000 live births.

In testimony before the U.S. Commission to Prevent Infant Mortality, Marsden Wagner MD, European Director of the World Health Organization, suggested the need in the U.S. for a “strong independent midwifery profession as a counterbalance to the obstetrical profession in preventing excessive interventions in the normal birth process.”[6]

Wagner states that in Europe midwives far outnumber physicians: “In no European country do obstetricians provide the primary health care for most women with normal pregnancy and birth.” He states that the U.S. has the highest obstetrical intervention rates as well as a serious problem with malpractice suits and concludes that a strong, independent midwifery service in the U.S. would be a most important counterbalance to the present situation.

Read more about homebirth at

Photo by Kuan-Jian Foo


Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: