Friday, June 17, 2005

Home Sweet Homebirth

Landmark Study Reports Planned Home Births Are Safe

"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). Published online at

A study published in the June 18 edition of the British Medical Journal found that for low risk women in the United States, planned home births are as safe as hospital births, and accomplished with much less medical intervention, compared with low risk hospital births. The researchers used prospective data on more than 5000 planned home births in North America attended by Certified Professional Midwives during the year 2000. This study is the largest yet on this subject, according to author Ken Johnson.

The study results belie the consistent claim of U.S. medical professionals and their organizations that "home birth is dangerous," a belief that is not supported by the weight of scientific evidence.

"We challenge U.S. physician organizations to acknowledge the findings of this study and others like it, and to actively support legislative and regulatory changes that will promote access to out-of-hospital maternity care provided by professional (independent) midwives, such as Certified Professional Midwives," said Susan Hodges, President of Citizens for Midwifery, a U.S. grassroots organization.

The researchers analyzed outcomes and medical interventions for planned home births, including transports to hospital care. According to the British Medical Journal press release, they found:

· Planned home births "had a low mortality rate during labor and delivery, similar to [rates] found in most studies of low risk hospital births in North America."

· "Rates of medical intervention, such as epidural, forceps and caesarean section, were lower for planned home births than for low risk hospital births."

· "A high degree of safety and maternal satisfaction were reported, and over 87% of mothers and babies did not require transfer to hospital" care.

These outcomes indicate that, despite many of the midwives in the study not being well-integrated into the healthcare system, appropriate transports were accomplished, and mothers and babies who needed hospital-based medical care received that care. Imagine the benefit to women and their families if these maternity care providers were welcomed and integrated into the American health care system. In addition, the results suggest that low risk women giving birth in hospitals many be subject to overuse of interventions that are not necessary for good outcomes.

This is an amazing study. Notice where it was published. The AMA controlled medical journals in this country wouldn't publish this study.


Blogger Nico said...

I've thought for a while that not going to a hospital is crazy, particularly after a friend of mine who wanted to give birth at a birthing center ended up being in labor for over 24 hours, and not getting sent to a hospital nearly as quickly as she should have. But then on the other hand, two of my cousins gave birth at home and both spoke incredibly positively about it! The fact that there are fewer interventions, but an equivalent rate of mortality, is not what I would have expected. Makes sense though, as I'm sure we would have heard ALL about it if there were a higher rate of death at home births.

June 18, 2005 5:55 AM  
Blogger Em said...

If I am luck enough to conceive, I would like to have my baby at a birthing centre, although being in the UK, I am a bit nervous. The maternity wrad at my local hospital made national news because it had far too many women and babies dying. It is now on 'special measures' and is being monitored.

June 19, 2005 2:02 AM  

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