April 13, 2015

314 Home Birth Safety [13 April 2015]

It’s nearly six years since I wrote about midwifery (#11 May 2009). At that time the Saskatchewan Midwifery Act was only a year old. Saskatchewan now has 15 practicing midwives, located in Saskatoon, Regina, Fort Qu’Appelle, and Swift Current. See saskatchewanmidwives.com for more information on the practice of midwifery in the province.

A recently published six-year study of midwife-assisted home births in the USA (J. Midwifery & Women’s Health) compared outcomes of nearly 17,000 planned home births with matched low risk planned hospital births. A review of the study by the Midwives Alliance of North America summarized the results:
“Home birth mothers had much lower rates of interventions in labor. While some interventions are necessary for the safety and health of the mother or baby, many are overused, are lacking scientific evidence of benefit, and even carry their own risks. Cautious and judicious use of intervention results in healthier outcomes and easier recovery, and this is an area in which midwives excel. Women who planned a home birth had fewer episiotomies, Pitocin for labor augmentation, and epidurals. Most importantly their babies were born healthy and safe.”
One significant finding was that the caesarian rate for women planning home births was only 5.2% (10.9% of women planning home births transferred to hospital for various reasons) compared to the U.S. national average of 31% for full term births. The Canadian average in 2012 was slightly lower at 29%. The World Health Organization recommends a caesarian rate of no more than 10 to 15%. Caesarians, while convenient (and lucrative) for doctors and hospitals, carry some risk and are associated with poorer health outcomes for both baby and mom.

The study concluded: “Low-risk women [who planned midwife-led home births] experienced high rates of physiologic birth and low rates of intervention without an increase in adverse outcomes.”

For insight into the home birth movement see the documentary “The Business of Being Born” at thebusinessofbeingborn.com (or watch for free on YouTube).

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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