Risks in Home Births

A report outlining the risks of at-home births was published in March by the Center for Disease Control. The National Vital Statistics Report showed a rise in out-of-hospital births, a 5 percent increase from 2004 to 2005.

The Benefits of Home Births

More women are choosing to give birth in their own homes or at freestanding birthing centers so they have more control over the birthing experience. The Vital Statistics Report shows that the majority of women choosing a home birth have already given birth in a hospital. This suggests that women are having negative hospital experiences and are looking for another option.

Home births are appealing to those looking to avoid having an epidural, cesarean section or other invasive procedures. Giving birth at home also reduces chances of infection, which are commonly acquired in hospitals.

The home birth allows a woman to be comfortable and personalize her care. Home births usually require a less recovery time and allow for more family interaction.

Choosing an experienced midwife is an important part of planning a home birth. Midwives should be expected to bring sterile instruments, medications, oxygen, IV's, and instruments for suturing tears.

The Risks of Home Births

Many physicians and medical organizations claim that the benefits of a home birth are far outweighed by the risks. Even low risk pregnancies can end in complications and emergencies that even the most experienced of midwives are not fit to handle.

A recent study by researchers at the Maine Medical Center found that chances of neonatal fatality are low overall, 0.2 percent, but can double or triple in a home birth.

The most common complication to arise in a home birth is newborn respiratory problems. It is also common for a baby's shoulders to get trapped against the pelvis, which would keep it from getting the oxygen it needs. Postpartum hemorrhage, perineal tears and dehydration are other problems that could cause serious injury or death in a home birth.

If any of these complications were to occur, hospitalization may be necessary. Some women who attempted home birth and were later hospitalized claimed they were met with a hostile staff.

All women have the right to choose where and how they will give birth. Talk with a physician or midwife about your medical and pregnancy history and research your birthing options before making a choice.