Should You Deliver Your Baby at Home or In the Hospital?

Portable birth hot tub. Sweet.

Portable birth hot tub. Sweet. (Photo credit: Jason Lander)

Home delivery is a subject that’s often highly emotional. Both women and men of all different backgrounds tend to harbor strong ideas about hospital birth versus home birth. There are also disagreements among delivery doctors when it comes to suggesting which place is safer to give birth.

Despite the fact that the number of home births in North America has exploded this decade, at-home delivery is still lower than 1 percent of all births in the U.S.

Women who decide on home birth choose this method for a number of reasons. Having their baby in a recognizable environment, prior adverse hospital experience, preventing needless medical interference, and wanting more control are a handful of excuses women give for choosing home birth.

Safety Issues

The medical community in the United States isn’t particularly supportive of home birth. Doctors cite reasons such as safety, and only a handful of insurance companies will provide for home delivery. With a lack of support from these two groups, most women believe hospital delivery is their sole selection.

Research involving the safety of premeditated home deliveries for low-risk mothers is insubstantial. Some research suggests that babies born at home are at higher risk for difficult transitions to living outside the womb, post-birth seizures, or death. Other research hasn’t found any difference regarding health or safety. In fact, it shows lower occurrences of doctor interventions in comparison to hospital deliveries.

One considerable challenge is that, even with deliberate screening for low risk, it’s difficult to determine which birth will be a fetal or maternal emergency that requires a hospital visit. For every purposeful home birth, transportation plans must be arranged before delivery that figures a traveling time to the hospital that’s as quick as possible. Expecting parents must also understand that 10 to 40 percent of mothers or children may need to be hospitalized during their labor, delivery, or immediately during their postpartum stage. If transport is necessary for emergencies, any delay can be fatal.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have conceded that birthing centers and hospitals are the safest places to give birth in the United States. At the same time, they respect a woman’s rights to make their own medically informed decisions regarding their delivery location.

Choosing Home Delivery

If premeditated home birth is chosen, delivery should be overseen by no less than two people, one of whom is properly trained in specific types of CPR for newborns. It’s also a good idea that a certified midwife provides care to the mother and baby.

Although it’s a fact that labor and delivery are natural, it’s complex and unexpected circumstances are common. Everyone who’s familiar with the birthing process very well knows that almost anything can turn the miracle of birth turn into a tragedy. Whatever the setting, a healthy mother, and baby is the primary goal for each birth.

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