Just as many of us unflinchingly identify with one side of the political aisle or the other, the decision to give birth at home or at a hospital is not even a question to many moms-to-be who wouldn't even think of opting for one or the other. Still, there are some who are on the fence, and a new analysis that appears online in The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology may be used to influence these undecided pregnant women.
An analysis of data collected from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2006 to 2009 on almost 14 million births, including 130K non-hospital deliveries, concluded that giving birth in a hospital is "considerably safer" than having a baby at home or in a birthing center.
The researchers looked at both early death (within seven days of birth) and neonatal death (within 28 days) among singleton full-term babies without congenital malformations. Reportedly, no matter how they parsed the numbers, babies born outside hospitals had higher rates of death.
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They also say babies delivered by midwives at home had nearly four times the risk for death compared with those delivered by hospital-based midwives, and the risk was highest if the birth was the woman's first. Further, doctor-attended births had higher mortality rates than midwife-attended births in hospitals; however, it bears noting that this is likely because the most complicated births are handled by physicians.
Given his findings, the lead author, Dr. Amos Grünebaum, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College, strongly discourages home birth, explaining what he sees as the ultimate solution here:
We need to make hospitals provide some of the amenities you have at home. We need to make hospitals more like homes instead of making homes more like hospitals.
It's an honorable goal. Perhaps these findings could help Dr. Grünebaum make a push in that direction. In the meantime, whether or not hospitals could ever be home-like enough for women looking for all the benefits of home birth that exist in spite of these reported risks remains to be seen.
How do you feel about these findings? Would you still have a home birth?