Are Home Births Risky?
A recent magazine, in their “Health Scare of the Week” section, led with the headline “Home Births Riskier”. They went on to say that the “likelihood that an infant will die during birth or shortly thereafter is 2.4 times greater” for home births compared to hospital births. No doubt, it was a health scare based on how they presented the story. But what were the actual numbers?
Oregon Home Births
The study being quoted was conducted by the Oregon Health and Science University, whose researchers looked at 79,727 Oregon births during 2012 and 2013. (Citation: December 31, 2015, Snowden J.M., Tilden E.L., Snyder J., et al. N Engl J Med 2015; 373:2642-2653)
Oregon has the nation’s highest home-birth rate, 2.4 percent in 2012. The headline of 2.4 times greater risk of death was based on the following statistic: There were 39 deaths per 10,000 from home births, and 18 deaths per 10,000 from hospital births. The deaths occurred during birth or within the first month after birth.
One statistic that didn’t make the headlines: Risk of C-Section was 4.7 times greater with hospital births. Planned home births ended in C-Sections in 53 of every 1,000 births, while planned hospital births ended in C-Section in 247 of every 1,000 births.
Overall, home birthers had higher rates of unassisted vaginal births, and hospital birthers had higher rates of induction and intervention.
The study concluded with these words: Perinatal mortality was higher with planned out-of-hospital birth than with planned in-hospital birth, but the absolute risk of death was low in both settings. (Emphasis ours.)
Ontario, Canada Home Births
A similar study was conducted in Ontario, Canada and published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in December 2015. This study found that women who were having a low-risk pregnancy home attended by a midwife did not have any increased risk of infant death compared to similar women having a hospital birth. This was true for both first-time births and subsequent births. (Citation: Outcomes associated with planned place of birth among women with low-risk pregnancies CMAJ 150564; published December 22, 2015, doi:10.1503/cmaj.150564)
Numerous studies prove that women in both a home birth or hospital birth setting have improved outcomes with the presence of a doula. To learn about being a Certified Massage Doula, visit Institute of Somatic Therapy
Link to full Oregon study: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa1501738
Photo Credit: Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net