The risk of having a serious problem with childbirth are the same for a woman giving birth at home as they are for a woman giving birth in a hospital, according to a Canadian study. The risks of stillbirth, death of the baby, or serious injury to the baby were the same, the study found. A planned home birth was associated with fewer interventions, such as resuscitation of the baby or cesarean delivery.
Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario compared medical records from more than 11,000 planned home births with those from a matched group of planned hospital births. The births took place in Ontario between 2006 and 2009 and more than half of the mothers had given birth before. Both the home and hospital births were scheduled with a registered midwife and the woman was seen by the midwife for prenatal care several times before the birth.
About 10% of births in Ontario are attended by a midwife. In the United States, about 8% of births are attended by a certified nurse-midwife or certified midwife.
All the births in the study were low-risk pregnancies, with no risk factors such as maternal multiple birth, premature birth, breech delivery, alcohol or drug dependency, chronic high blood pressure, type 1 or gestational diabetes, heart condition, hepatitis B, HIV, babies that were small for their gestational age, or other factors.
About 8% of the home-birth group needed emergency services compared to fewer than 2% in the planned hospital group. However, those in the hospital group had more interventions such as labor augmentation, assisted vaginal delivery, or cesarean section. Stillbirth or newborn death occurred in 1.5 of every 1,000 home births compared to 0.94 of every 1,000 hospital births.
Previous studies of home births with midwives have found similar rates of complications.
You can read the whole study here.