What are the Benefits and Challenges of Home Birth?

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Why Do Women Choose to Have Home Births?

Home births offer healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies the chance to deliver their babies in a peaceful, familiar setting. You are attended by a midwife or a doctor, but you are free to move around, to have control over who is present, and to enjoy the comfort of your own home. You and your newborn will also be free of the risks inherent in a hospital setting, such as infectious organisms and treatment errors. For these reasons, the percentage of women who choose home births is rising rapidly.

Are Home Births Safe?

The statistics say that home births are safe for women who are carefully screened. A 2013 British Medical Journal study of over 146,000 low-risk births found that women who had their babies at home suffered fewer complications than low-risk women who gave birth in hospitals. One important aspect of this research to keep in mind is that it was conducted in the Netherlands, where home birth is more common than hospital birth, and so Dutch doctors and midwives have a lot of experience with delivering babies at home. If you are interested in birthing your baby at home, it’s important that you seek out a professional who is both experienced and positive about the idea.

Am I a Good Candidate for a Home Birth?

This is an important conversation to have with your doctor or midwife, but here are some basic guidelines published by the American Association of Pediatrics:

  • You should be pregnant with only one baby, not twins or more.
  • Your pregnancy should be free of disease and pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Your baby should be head-downwards when labor begins.
  • You should go into labor naturally or be induced as an outpatient.
  • You should be between 37 and 41 weeks pregnant when you go into labor.
  • You should be under the care of a doctor, a certified midwife, or a nurse-midwife.
  • You should have one professional who will be solely focused on the baby after it is born, in addition to the professional who is helping you deliver the baby.
  • You should have easy access to a hospital which is prepared to admit you in case of emergency.

What Will My Doctor Think?

It’s important to talk about your birthing options at the very beginning of your pregnancy, when you are first choosing the doctor or midwife who will provide your prenatal care. If a home birth is something you want to consider, you should find a health care practitioner who is comfortable and experienced with delivering babies at home.

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