Medical Journal Argues Against Home Births

Filed under: In The News, Delivery, Research Reveals: Babies, Pregnancy Health

Medical Journal Argues Against Home Births

Some experts say women with high-risk pregnancies shouldn't give birth at home. Credit: Getty Images

"Open up! Baby police! Put your hands above your womb! Breathe! Breathe!"

You won't even think about giving birth at home, if a leading medical journal has its way.

Editors of The Lancet say women should not be allowed to give birth at home, claiming in the latest issue of the specialty journal on oncology, neurology and infectious diseases that home births are too risky. The journal cites research reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, which "provides the strongest evidence so far that home birth can, after all, be harmful to newborn babies."

They also argue home births are three times riskier for newborns than hospital births.

The Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reports babies born at home were far more likely to die from heart and breathing problems, possibly because they are not properly monitored for signs of distress or treated on time in an emergency.

The research covered 549,607 births and showed the average mortality rate of babies born in a hospital was 0.3 per 1,000 births, but this rose to one per 1,000 births for those born at home.

"Women have the right to choose how and where to give birth, but they do not have the right to put their baby at risk," The Lancet opines. "Home delivery is an option for mothers with uncomplicated pregnancies, provided they are advised of the risks involved, have one-to-one midwife care that includes good resuscitation skills and accreditation by a local regulatory body and live in a location that allows quick access to obstetric care."

The medical journal reports home births are increasing in popularity as mothers become more scared of contagious diseases.

Still, editors argue, "hospital delivery should be the preferred method of delivery for high-risk pregnancies, even though it is not without risks. A recent study from Scotland showed that rates of neonatal death are higher in hospitals when births occur outside normal working hours."

The risk of home births should not be ignored, Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, tells the London Daily Mail.

"The move towards offering women a choice in their place of birth needs to be weighed against such evidence," he tells the newspaper. "The selection process for home delivery should exclude mothers with high-risk pregnancies. Mothers should not be alarmed as long as there is a transfer mechanism if there is a difficulty."

Related: U.S. Sees Fewer Premature Births for Second Straight Year

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.