Home births for women with low risk pregnancies do not increase the risk of birth complications.
Safety factors surrounding home births have always been debated, but a new study comparing the maternal complications between planned home and hospital births, published in BMJ , has improved upon previous studies that have only concentrated on a small sample.
The Netherlands has the highest percentage of home births in Western countries, and Dutch researchers tested whether low risk women at the onset of labour with a planned home birth have a higher rate of rare but severe outcomes than those with planned hospital births. 'Severe outcomes' was defined as admission to an intensive care unit, uterine rupture, eclampsia or major obstetric haemorrhage.
For women with their first pregnancy, the rate of severe outcomes for a planned home birth was 2.3 per 1000, compared with 3.1 per 1000 for a planned hospital birth. For women who had previously given birth, the rate of severe outcomes for a planned home birth was 1 per 1000 compared to 2.3 per 1000 for hospital births.
It is important to stress that the findings may only apply in regions where midwife training for home births, and facilities for transfer in emergencies, are adequate. However, the research concluded that low risk women in primary care with planned home birth at the onset of labour had a lower rate of severe outcome than those with planned hospital birth, and the differences were statistically significant for first-time mothers.
Copyright Press Association 2013