Both of my children were born at home, after very different labors. My first labor was long and challenging. My daughter was born into my midwife and husband’s hands as I squatted on a birthing stool on our living room floor. My second home birth was fast – it came quickly, swept me up like a tornado taking me to another world. I was caught in the power of labor for a relatively short time, then dropped back down out of it, with another sweet daughter making her arrival quickly under the same midwife’s watchful eyes and, again, into my husband’s waiting hands. Our first daughter, who was two at the time, was quickly in the middle of things, simultaneously telling me that, “Mom, this is very messy. Oh, look at the baby!”
They were both great experiences. And yet, I still find myself defending my decision to have a home birth, even after people discover that I am a home birth midwife.
The Midwives Alliance of North America Statistics Project, 2004 to 2009
Published in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, Outcomes of Care for 16,924 Planned Home Births in the United States: The Midwives Alliance of North America Statistics Project, 2004 to 2009 shows that, for low-risk women, planned home birth with a trained midwife has very good outcomes for both mother and baby. While it is never possible to eliminate risk entirely, this study shows that, for women who are healthy, home birth is a valid option that can result in a safe and satisfying experience.
Some of the highlights of the study include:
89.1% of the women gave birth at home, with the largest reason given for transport to a hospital being lack of progress
93.6% had spontaneous vaginal deliveries
5.2% had cesarean deliveries
1.2% had assisted vaginal deliveries
It is important to note that this study is not population-based. Unfortunately, there is no accurate way to gather this kind of data for every woman who is planning to have a home birth in the United States. However, the data that this study gathered is very similar in outcome to large, population based studies in other countries, which is reassuring.
Why This Study Matters
Women need to know that they have choices and what those choices truly entail. Ask a lot of questions. If you do not like the answers you are getting, look for another provider. There are many ways and places to give birth. Natural or epidural, vaginal or c-section, birth center, hospital or home. All of these choices carry with them certain risks and benefits.
It is easy to assume that a home birth is a less safe, or even dangerous, option for birth. However, this study shows this to be untrue. For low-risk women with trained birth attendants, home birth can bring with it many benefits. Giving birth is one experience that almost every woman on the planet shares. It is life changing, and its power makes an impression that stays with a woman for the rest of her life. Every woman deserves to be treated with respect and given high quality care. Midwifery care and home birth are on the rise, and this important study shows that home birth is a safe option.