A Recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal shows that planned homebirth with a registered midwife is just as safe if not safer than hospital birth. The study concludes that “planned home birth attended by a registered midwife was associated with very low and comparable rates of perinatal death and reduced rates of obstetric interventions and other adverse perinatal outcomes compared with planned hospital birth attended by a midwife or physician” (Janssen et al, 2009). The full article can be found at http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/content/full/181/6-7/377.
Midwives are the primary maternity care providers in most of the world today. While it is assumed that Americans will receive the very best medical care possible, the U.S. fails miserably in maternity care. In fact, the U.S. has one of the worst neonatal and mortality rates of developed nations. According to the World Health Organization, the United States ranks 32nd in neonatal mortality and 31st in maternal mortality (WHO, 2008) despite escalating cesarean section rates and spending more on obstetric care than any other nation. When will the United States catch up with the rest of the world?
The reality is that most complications during birth are caused by unnecessary hospital interventions, drugs, and being confined to a bed during labor. When a mom labors at home, she is naturally more relaxed. As a result of being relaxed, her labor generally progresses faster and less discomfort is experienced, so there is no need for drugs. The laboring mom has freedom to move around, eat, drink, or labor/birth in the water. The midwife attends her in a supportive and non-interventive way, monitoring her and the baby all along the way. At home, the laboring mom is the only patient, so she has undivided attention and care, and her risk of infection is lowered. The Licensed Midwife brings to the home all the equipment and medications that you would find at a birth center, including a hand-held doppler, oxygen, resuscitation equipment, IV fluid, hemorrhage medication, and suturing supplies. The midwife is trained to both prevent and handle emergency situations. Only about 5% of planned homebirths transfer to the hospital, and most of these are unrushed, non-emergency transfers. Once the baby is born at home, the baby remains with the family in an environment to which its immune system is adapted, which results in less newborn infections.