Are you considering a home birth? Have you heard any of these?
- Homebirth is dangerous
- You are putting your baby in harms’ way
- Giving birth at home is illegal
- You have to take the baby to the hospital right after birth
- More babies die at homebirths than in the hospital
Or your friends and family might ask, “What are you crazy?”
Let’s debunk the myths one by one.
Myth #1 Homebirth is dangerous.
This is a very broad statement. Dangerous compared to what? for who? in what way?
In this landmark study on planned homebirth you will discover that among the low-risk population who plan for homebirth, there are fewer interventions and no increased risk for mother or baby.
ACOG, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, has their own opinion on the matter. Henci Goer does a great job of deciphering and comparing the 2011 and 2016 ACOG opinions.
Women who are healthy and at low risk for complications are great candidates for homebirth. To say it is dangerous for all women is simply not true.
Myth #2 Your baby is in harms’ way.
If you do your research on homebirth safety and you feel confident and safe giving birth in your home then how are you putting your baby in harms’ way?
Midwives are trained to deal with circumstances that arise when it would be best to transport to a hospital. Most of the time the reason for transport is a non-emergency reason, such as failure to progress, or maternal exhaustion.
You still get to choose a provider who is clinically skilled, trained, and has a good reputation in the community, just as in other health care decisions.
You are the one that knows your baby, and what you want.
Myth #3 Giving birth at home is illegal.
In some states it is, but not everywhere. In many states, homebirth is a legal, viable option. You get to find out the laws in the state that you live in, and what your options are. It’s a shame that in today’s society in the United States, not all women have access to all options. This is not only dictated by state laws governing midwives, but also by insurance, and access to care. Sadly, it’s not an equal opportunity for all.
Myth #4 After homebirth you have to take your baby to the hospital right away
Your baby will be checked out by the midwife after birth. She will do the same test, the APGAR, as is done in the hospital right after birth. Midwives should carry oxygen, in the case of necessity. If you have any concerns about your baby, you can take the baby to the hospital, or arrange a pediatrician visit whenever you choose. It is always your choice.
Sometimes babies are born with a problem that needs medical attention. Not every situation is exactly the same, and not every baby requires hospital admission or an exam.
If you are considering the home birth option, educate yourself and ask questions.
Your baby feels what you feel. Feeling safe with your choice is important. I am certain that you would not intentionally deny your baby the care s/he needs.
Myth #5 More babies die at homebirth than hospital birth.
Often times we hear about the baby that died at a homebirth. The story is sensationalized in the news and the midwife is targeted. We don’t hear about all the babies that live. We don’t hear about the full circumstances surrounding the death.
Some babies do die, no matter where they are born. This includes the hospital. Preterm birth accounts for about 17% of the babies that die each year.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there is a higher percentage of preterm birth, and low birthweight babies in the hospital birth category. This is because the homebirth group is comprised of women at lower risk of this occurring.
Given the fact that out of hospital births (including home) comprises less than 2% of the total births in the United States, it would make sense that there are more babies than die in hospital births that comprise 98% of the births.
You can do a query through the CDC. When I did that accounting for deaths within the first week, in and out of hospital births, 39 weeks gestation, there were 30 in hospital and 2 out of the hospital. When I did a different query for all there were still more deaths in the hospital but the percent rate was slightly higher for homebirth.
You can skew statistics to prove your own point or validate an opinion. Anybody can interpret statistics to prove themselves right.
For further exploration here is the tool for inquiry.
To conclude, I would say that homebirth is a safe option. The myths about safety and danger are blanket statements that do not apply to every woman and to every situation.
You getting right information and making a right choice you feel is right for you. You get to feel safe wherever you give birth. If, for you, that is home, then so be it.