Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Home Birth As Safe As Hospital Birth Shock

It is great to see a study in the news today showing that in he Netherlands, between 2000 and 2006, home births were as safe for low-risk women as hospital births (the study compares outcomes for babies; outcomes for mothers are not mentioned). For example, here is how the Times reported it. The study is not perfectly applicable to the UK because the structures of our maternity services are different. But it is still a nice story! And while pondering this news, I was struck by how lucky we are in the UK that our National Health Service does support home birth, even if it struggles to find enough midwives to provide it. We can give birth at home if we want to, and the law will change this year to stipulate that we have a right to a home birth. We have a maternity service run primarily by midwives, with obstetricians acting more as a safety net when problems occur during pregnancy and birth. Community midwives work from clinics and even visit us at home, meaning that we barely have to go near a hospital or a doctor if we do not want to. And, in my experience, midwives have a lot of respect for women's wishes regarding how they wish to labour, what pain relief they require, whether they wish to deliver the placenta naturally and even whether they want to keep it to eat (which I did not).

These are just my little thankful thoughts for the day.


Launi said...

You are so lucky to have such a supportive system. Both of my daughters birthed at home--one of them with twins. We had a wonderful midwife and of course, everything went beautifully. But I am constantly surprised at the negative comments that people make about how "dangerous" home birth is. I teach HypnoBirthing Childbirth Education classes and I'm seeing more and more couples who want to take control of their birthing experience--they are staying home.

docwitch said...

Hello there. I think it's a really interesting (and important) point you make about home births being a right rather than just an option. Even if it seems like little more than a symbolic gesture at face value, enshrining in the law the right to give birth at home is a significant step to changing a culture's attitudes about it, (I hope - I'm an optimist!)

I certainly know when I considered a home-birth as an option, I was very much made to feel, from some quarters, that I was being a bit outrageous and that I had 'no right' to endanger the life of my child, by attempting to deliver at home. As it happens, I ended up having hospital intervention. Probably unnecessary in hindsight, but never mind. Australia has a notoriously high rate of medical intervention in pregnancy and birth. Even compared to many other Western societies.

Cave Mother said...

Launi, that's fascinating that you teach hypnobirthing. I have often wondered if it really works. First time around I wanted to keep things simPLe, but maybe next time I'll try water birthing and hypnotism.

docwitch - I didn't realise Australia had a high intervention rate. I know the US does, and I'm sure I read that more infants die as a result of birth there than any other Western country.