by: Dr. Mercola
July 26, 2012
Do you believe that a hospital is the safest place to give birth to a baby? Society certainly paints the picture this way, portraying the hospital as the savior of sorts where women must rush off to in the middle of the night at the first sign of labor.
However, a growing number of women are choosing to buck the status quo and deliver their babies right at home.
And wouldn’t you know it … this isn’t a new fad, it’s a return to the way women have been birthing babies for ages – and the research shows it’s often the safer way, too.
Home Birth is Safer for Most Low-Risk Pregnancies
In an article written by Judy Cohain, CNM, she highlights 17 studies conducted over the last 15 years that show attended planned home birth is safer for low-risk women than hospital birth. In 12 of the studies, rates of perinatal mortality (deaths that occur before, during or immediately after birth) were either lower or similar for home birth, while rates of maternal morbidity were significantly lower, compared to hospital birth.
She pointed out five studies that appeared to show home birth as less safe, but this was because they included high-risk cases in the mix. Cohain stated:1
“Another 5 studies claim home birth to have a higher perinatal mortality rate compared to hospital birth but they all include high risk births in the planned homebirth group.
Instead of excluding the high risk births from both groups, they include the home birth outcomes of premature births at 34-37 weeks gestation, breech and twins, lethal anomalies incompatible with life, unattended home births, unplanned home births, or women who became risked out of home birth by becoming high risk at the end of pregnancy, had hospital births, but are included in the home birth group.
These 5 studies conclude that home birth is less safe than hospital birth, when what these papers actually found is that low risk births are safer at home but premature births have better outcomes in hospital.
Possible explanations for the false conclusion of these studies could be paternalistic power games over women or hospital birth being not only the most common but also the most profitable reason for hospitalization. Remove the high risk births from those studies and they also confirm that home birth is safer for low risk women than hospital birth.”
What Makes Hospital Births Risky for Low-Risk Women?
When you enter a hospital setting, birth, an inherently natural experience, is automatically turned into a medical condition. Many women are given the drug Pitocin, a synthetic form of oxytocin, to jumpstart labor and intensify contractions, or their membranes are artificially ruptured, which then can set off a cascade of biological changes that increase the need for more medical interventions, and ultimately Caesarean section (C-section).
C-section is the most common operation performed in the United States, and accounts for nearly one-third of all births. According to the World Health Organization, no country is justified in having a cesarean rate greater than 10 percent to 15 percent. The United States’ rate, at nearly 32 percent, is so high that even The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists admits it is worrisome.
This is actually the highest rate ever reported in the United States, and a rate higher than in most other developed countries. One study in the British Medical Journal found that a woman’s risk of death during delivery is three to five times higher during cesarean than a natural delivery, her risk of hysterectomy four times higher, and her risk of being admitted to intensive care is two times higher.2
C-section rates are lower among home births, as well as midwife-attended births. At one small hospital run by the Navajo Nation, where midwives deliver most babies born vaginally, the C-section rate is only 13.5 percent.