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Is It Safe to Give Birth at Home?

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  • Written By: Niki Foster
  • Edited By: Sara Z. Potter
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2016
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Under certain circumstances, it is safe to give birth at home, but it is important to plan carefully and take precautions in order to ensure the safety of both the mother and child. In the case of unexpected complications during a home birth, the mother should be able to be transferred to a hospital or to get medical assistance quickly. For a low-risk pregnancy in a healthy woman with no history of childbirth complications, to give birth at home with an obstetrician or trained midwife is a reasonable option.

It is important to note that there are different ways to have a baby at home, and that some are safer than others. In an unassisted birth, usually only the parents of the baby are present. Because there are no medical or childbirth professionals present in this type of home birth and the couple are typically not trained to deal with medical complications, this is the riskiest way. A far more common way to have a baby at home is with the help of a midwife, a trained professional who assists in childbirth. Some couples also choose to employ a physician to help the mother give birth.

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Studies on how safe it is to give birth at home have had varying results, but it is certain that there are different risks than those encountered in a hospital setting. Some serious complications that can arise during pregnancy, even in a healthy woman, require equipment that is only available in a hospital, so a woman giving birth in a hospital can be treated more quickly in the case of a potentially fatal problem like hemorrhaging. However, a well qualified midwife can often manage such situations successfully until the mother can obtain the medical help she needs.

In the case of a complication-free birth, it is often more comfortable and less stressful for everyone involved to give birth at home. Women who choose to have a baby at home have a lower incidence of intervention procedures such as Cesarean section, epidural anesthetic, and forceps delivery. Infection is also less likely to occur in the home, as both mother and baby will have developed immunity to the germs in their home, while unfamiliar and resistant strains of bacteria are often present in a hospital setting.

If you are considering giving birth at home, it is important to fully research the benefits and risks of all your options. Be aware that in some states in the U. S. and Australia, midwives may not legally assist at home births. Though it is legal for a woman to give birth at home in these states, the absence of a midwife will most likely make the procedure much more risky. Prenatal health and open communication with your doctor are essential to a successful pregnancy no matter where it takes place. Make sure to discuss any childbirth options you are considering with your physician before making a decision.

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Fa5t3r
Post 3

@umbra21 - I really think it's up to the mother to decide what she wants to do, within a certain about of leeway. If there's any known chance of complications then I wouldn't support the choice to have a home birth, but honestly, hospitals are hardly ideal places to be either.

I definitely wouldn't judge someone who wanted to give birth at home, particularly if they took every possible step to assure the safety of themselves and their infant.

umbra21
Post 2

@browncoat - Just being in a hospital is no guarantee that you will be properly cared for during a birth. Often a doctor isn't even available until the final stages of the process and the nurse who occasionally pops her head in the room may not have anywhere near the same amount of experience as a good midwife.

You might also be giving birth in the same room with other mothers, which is hardly ideal, and on top of all of that, you run an increasing risk of exposing yourself and your child to antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.

All of that, and giving birth in a hospital is also prohibitively expensive for a large segment of the population. I can definitely see why some people might find giving birth at home to be the best of available options.

browncoat
Post 1

I just don't think this is ever a good idea if you have the ability to get to a hospital. No matter how healthy you and the baby are, there is always a risk of complications and there are some things a midwife simply cannot do, particularly if she didn't bring a full operating theater with her to the birth.

I can understand the impulse to do things the natural way, but, in truth, the natural way leads to a much lower life expectancy for babies and that's not even getting into the ways in which they could be injured or brain-damaged by difficulties when a mother tries to give birth at home.

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