Birthing at home is a practice as old as time. In fact, it is only recently that women began to turn to the medical establishment and hospitals to give birth. (And this, only in the U.S., as worldwide most babies are still born at home.) However, it has never been proven that physician attended hospital births are safer than midwife-attended home birth for women in normal pregnancies. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that the preferred location for most births is outside the hospital, either at home or in a birthing center, and that out-of-hospital birth should be implemented and maintained as the basic standard for all midwifery education and training programs. The truth is that in countries where midwives principally attend birth, infant mortality rates are lower.
Women who choose homebirth are generally in low risk pregnancies and feel that pregnancy and birth are not illnesses, which require medical attention. They trust in themselves to give birth and to know that they can turn to the medical system in the event of an emergency. They choose to take responsibility for their pregnancy and birth and to be empowered by its experience. They aren’t comfortable in the hospital environment and they don’t want to be confined to rules and procedures which impede them from giving birth at their own pace and in their own way. They want to develop a deep relationship with their care provider. And, they are willing to take an active part in their own healthcare and to uncover their fears about giving birth and their new and impending roles as mothers.
Aside from the advantages stated above, homebirth has many other advantages, including: an increased chance of successful vaginal birth; continuity of care; support without medical interventions and procedures; not subject to hospital protocols; comforts of home environment; no transportation involved; decreased likelihood of infection; no need for mother and baby to be separated after the birth; ability to provide gentle birth experience for baby; improved atmosphere for breastfeeding; providing a cost-effective alternative to hospital, physician and maternity services; and much much more.
Some disadvantages are: choosing homebirth requires a higher level of effort and responsibility; it is often not supported by society, family, friends, and doctors; it is often not covered by medical insurance; and access to some emergency equipment can be delayed and requires transport.
You can read more about homebirth starting on the following web sites:
- For info on various aspects of Midwifery: Motherstuff.com
- For an Introduction to Midwifery
- For References on Homebirth
- To read stories about homebirths, please visit Birth & Beyond or enter the words “homebirth” and “stories” in your search engine.