Study Shows Having Baby at Home Is Safe
But Pediatrician Says It's Tough to Be Prepared for Emergencies at Home
WebMD News Archive
Night and Day
Hess says the difference between her first delivery and her second with
home-birth midwife Ronnie Falcao was like night and day.
"In the hospital they would examine me when it was convenient for them,
even if I was in the middle of a contraction," she says. "But Ronnie
was there to offer support and do things on my schedule. It was the best thing
ever to have my baby in my environment and not some strange setting."
Falcao, who is not a nurse, has attended at about 100 home births in and
around Silicon Valley. She tells WebMD that it has become more difficult over
the past few years to find partner physicians to work with her if the mom ends
up needing medical care. She says insurance companies in California have
adopted a policy of terminating the malpractice insurance of doctors who back
up home-birth midwives.
She estimates that just under a third of her first-time moms will end up
giving birth in a hospital due to complications, but the rate is much lower
among women who have already had babies.
A total of 12% of the women who planned home births in the newly published
study ended up being transferred to hospitals due to complications.
Most Midwife Births in Hospitals
According to CDC figures, the number of births attended by midwives
increased steadily between 1975 and 2002, rising from just under 1% in the
mid-'70s to 8%.
But the vast majority of these births were attended by nurse midwives in
hospitals or birthing centers. There are no good figures on home births in the
United States, but in a 2000 report the CDC estimated that the numbers are
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) represents
more than 46,000 women's health care physicians. The group opposes home
"Labor and delivery, while a physiologic process, clearly presents
potential hazards to both mother and fetus before and after birth," the
ACOG position statement on home birth states. "These hazards require
standards of safety that are provided in the hospital setting and cannot be
matched in the home situation."