Major Academic Study Finds Planned At-Home Births Are Generally Safe

The number of planned home births in the United States is up over 40 percent over the past decade but they still account for only 1.2 percent of all births in this country. In comparison, nearly 30 percent of all births in The Netherlands occur outside a hospital obstetrics unit.

A major academic study of nearly 17,000 planned home births found that such procedures are generally safe. Some 58 percent of the women in the study were college educated. The results showed that planned home births had lower infant and maternal mortality rates and only 5.2 percent required a cesarean section. It must be noted that women who planned home birth were generally more healthy and had lower risk pregnancies than women who chose to give birth at a hospital.

cheyneyMelissa Cheyney, an associate professor of medical anthropology at Oregon State University and the lead author of the study, stated: “It’s time to start shifting the discourse about home birth in this country. We need to start focusing on who might be a good candidate for home or birth center birth and stop debating whether women should be allowed to choose these options. The evidence strongly suggests that a healthy woman with an uncomplicated delivery and a single, term baby in a head-down position can safely give birth outside the hospital.”

Dr. Cheyney is a graduate of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she majored in European history and biology. She holds a master’s degree in bioarchaeology from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo and a Ph.D. in biological anthropology from the University of Oregon.

The article, “Outcomes of Care for 16,924 Planned Home Births in the United States: The Midwives Alliance of North America Statistics Project, 2004 to 2009,” was published on the website of the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health. The research may be viewed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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