Many people choose hospital birth because there is a perception that it is safer for mother and baby. However, scientific research shows otherwise.
I often hear people say something along the lines of, “I considered home birth, but I (and /or my partner) am very scientific minded so am choosing to birth in the hospital.”
If you are in the process of deciding whether or not to plan a home birth or a hospital birth, I encourage you to reflect on the outcomes of the scientific research done on the safety of home birth vs. hospital birth.
Studies on the safety of planned home births:
- Outcomes of planned home birth with registered midwife versus planned hospital birth with… (Janssen et al)
- Outcomes associated with planned home birth and planned hospital birth (Hutton et al)
- Outcomes of planned home births with certified professional midwives (Johnson)
- Severe adverse maternal outcomes among low risk women with planned home versus hospital births in the Netherlands: nationwide cohort study (de Jonge et al)
Here are a few key excerpts from some of the above research papers (emphasis added):
“Outcomes of planned hospital birth vs planned home birth attended by a registered midwife was associated with very low and comparable rates of perinatal death and reduced rates of obstetric interventions and other adverse perinatal outcomes compared with planned hospital birth attended by a midwife or physician.” (Janssen et al, 2013)
“Compared with women who planned a hospital birth with a midwife or physician in attendance, those who planned a home birth were significantly less likely to experience any of the obstetric interventions we assessed, including electronic fetal monitoring, augmentation of labour, assisted vaginal delivery, cesarean delivery and episiotomy.” (Janssen et al, 2013)
“Newborns whose mothers planned a home birth were at similar or reduced risk of fetal and neonatal morbidity compared with newborns whose mothers planned a hospital birth” (Janssen et al, 2013)
“Women and their partners should be advised that the risk of PPH is higher among births planned to take place in hospital compared to births planned to take place at home” (Nove et al, 2012)
“Low risk women in primary care at the onset of labour with planned home birth had lower rates of severe acute maternal morbidity, postpartum haemorrhage, and manual removal of placenta than those with planned hospital birth.” (de Jonge et al, 2013)
According to the above studies, home birth may be considered not only as safe, but safer for healthy women having healthy pregnancies, if you factor in the reduced likelihood of interventions (which themselves come with their own risks).
Partially due to the fact that the science supports home birth safety, in 2012 BC’s health minister Margaret MacDiarmid publicly encouraged women who are “low-risk” to birth at home. (Times Colonist Article)
The studies do not address the outcomes of planned home births which are either unassisted or with the support of a traditional birth attendant, which are also options for you as a birthing woman.
For more on home birth, see The Importance of Natural Home Birth or 9 Practical Reasons to Choose Home Birth.