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Home births no riskier to baby than planned hospital births, research finds

21 December, 2015

Home births no riskier to baby than planned hospital births, research finds

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Pregnant woman at home Image: istock

Home births for women with low-risk pregnancies carry no increased risk of harm to the baby compared with a planned hospital birth, new research has found.

The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, compared 11,493 planned home births and 11,493 planned hospital births in Ontario, which is Canada's largest province, over three years.

It sought to determine the risk of stillbirth, neonatal death or serious events among low-risk women. They included both first-time mothers (35%) and women who had previously given birth (65%).

Women in the hospital group were more likely to have interventions such as labour augmentation, assisted vaginal births or CS deliveries. The incidence of stillbirth or neonatal death was 1.15 per every 1000 births in the planned home birth group compared with 0.94 per 1000 in the planned hospital birth group.

Louise Silverton, RCM director for midwifery, said that while the research was interesting, it was important to be ‘cautious about its relevance’ since maternity services differed between Canada and the UK.

Nevertheless, she said, it was further evidence of the relative safety of home births.

‘It is important for women to know that all births carry some element of risk, however small, no matter where they take place. It is wrong to assume that for women at low risk of complications, hospital birth is safer than that in a midwifery-led unit or at home,’ said Louise.

She added: ‘There is a growing amount of evidence, as this research also suggests, about the reduction in medical interventions such as caesarean sections, among women who have a home or midwife-led birth. This is also something we would encourage women to think about when they are planning their place of birth.’

(Reference: CMAJ 2015. DOI:10.1503/ cmaj.150564 - awaiting upload of paper)

 

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