Why Plan Birth at Home?
Research shows that planned home birth with a qualified attendant is as safe or safer for most birthing parents and their babies.
Home birth reduces:
Risk of infection
Risk from unnecessary intervention, including cesarean rates
Maternal morbidity rates from complications and interventions
Risk from errors in hospital
Interference in bonding and breastfeeding from hospital policies
Home birth provides:
Safe, familiar, and private surrounding for labor and birth
Individualized care during preconception, pregnancy, labor and birth
Family oriented birth with no strangers present
An opportunity for immediate bonding and breastfeeding
Less disruption and stress for the whole family
Safety of Home Birth
“Several methodologically sound observational studies have compared the outcomes of planned home-births (irrespective of the eventual place of birth) with planned hospital-births for women with similar characteristics. A meta-analysis of these studies showed no maternal mortality, and no statistically significant differences in perinatal mortality risk in either direction.”
Murray Enkin, et al, A Guide to Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth. Oxford University Press, 2000.
Over 1000 babies were born at home in Wisconsin in the past years and that number continues to grow. Studies prove that birth outcomes for planned home birth are as safe, if not safer, than hospital birth for low-risk pregnant women. It is not technology that offers these wonderful outcomes and higher rates of satisfaction; it is careful prenatal assessment, the cornerstone of effective, safe home birth and midwifery care.
A qualified midwife will provide continuity of care that allows the midwife to be familiar with her health, family and obstetric history of the client. The midwife will provide education on nutrition, fetal development, exercise and healthy lifestyle choices in addition to offering routine laboratory test during pregnancy. If necessary the midwife will facilitate transfer to a medical provider and remain at your side as an advocate, if signs of complications develop.
In labor and delivery your midwife will have a fetal doppler (or fetoscope upon request) to asses fetal heart tones, anti-hemorrhagic medications, oxygen for both mother and baby, a bag and mask to deliver oxygen, IV equipment and fluids, and suturing materials. The midwife and any assistants at the birth will have current training and certification in neonatal resuscitation (NRP) as well as adult CPR/Basic Life Support (BLS). The vast majority of issues that arise for healthy mothers and babies can be handled with these initial measures at home. An established system of medical collaboration and transfer will be in place for those needing further attention.
We are sometimes asked about the clean up after the birth. The first priority of a qualified midwife is assuring mother and baby are stable. Once this has been established the midwife and birth assistants will clean the birth area and typically begin a load of laundry. Ongoing postpartum support will include lactation support and guidance until the well-being of the mother and baby is established. Your midwife will stay at your home after baby arrives for at least 2 hours.
Transfers to Hospital
There is the potential at any birth for transfer to medical care. The transfer rate of Open Arms Midwifery, LLC is 9-11%. The majority of these transfers are non-emergent. This number includes labors that transfer for a cesarean, of which our rate is 5.3%. (US's national average for cesarean section is about 33%.)
The United States and all the technology that it offers has the second worst neonatal mortality rate in the developed world. The Netherlands and Great Britain, both with significantly better maternal and newborn outcomes than the United States, include homebirth as an option for all families. An April 2007 joint statement from the Royal College of Midwives and Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecologist support home birth for women with uncomplicated pregnancies. They further state, “There is no reason why home birth should not be offered to women at low risk of complications and it may confer considerable benefits for them and their families. There is ample evidence showing that labouring at home increases a woman's likelihood of a birth that is both satisfying and safe, with implications for her health and that of her baby." While home birth is still a minority choice here in the United States, more and more families are choosing out-of-hospital settings for the birth of their babies.
Home birth is an instinctive choice for many, a well thought-out and researched choice for others. Some will choose home birth because of a previous bad hospital experience, or because they have heard or witnessed horror stories from others. Some choose home birth because they have been surrounded by the natural birth process and have had the privilege and honor of supporting other women and families birthing in their homes.