Home Births May Be Safer, Doctors Say

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There’s been a lot of talk lately about home births, which have increased 20 percent between 2004 and 2008. Even within my own circle of friends, more and more are opting for home births as opposed to a standard hospital birth (one friend in particular, eight months pregnant with her first, said she nixed a hospital delivery after watching Ricki Lake-produced documentary The Business Of Being Born). Many people, myself included, get totally freaked out by the idea that if anything goes wrong with the baby, you need to somehow get to the hospital in a situation where time is of the essence. But home birth advocates would argue that the risks of delivering in a hospital far outweigh the 10 minutes it would take to get to a hospital in case of emergency.

It’s a hot topic that continues to be debated among leading medical experts and BFFs alike. And now a new report by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in England shows that some physicians think that home births are safer.

Too many babies are born in the traditional ‘hospital’ setting,” says Royal College president Anthony Falconer. “There’s a perception among patients that they still see the hospital births as the safer option.” He goes on to say that that “roughly a third of women need a doctor, roughly a third need midwives and roughly a third might need both.” The only people who should definitely give birth in a hospital, according to the report, are women at clear risk of complications such as those over 40 or diabetics.

For those not inclined to deliver a baby in their own home, heading to a local birthing center is another option that’s increasing in popularity (we love this candid and hilarious article by Tracie Egan Morrissey explaining why she’s chosen that route). Royal College vice president David Richmond, who wrote the report, is a fan of birthing centers. He says that most most women could have their babies here “without a doctor going anywhere near them.”

“Do they need to be in an institution that can do MRI scans and renal transplants and brain surgery? Probably not,” he says. “So we need to have this network of care where the woman is guided to the right part of the network to receive her care.”

(Photo: Comstock)