ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS Atlanta) – A new study has found that home births are safe for low risk pregnant women.
The study of planned home births found that 93.6 percent of the 16,924 women had spontaneous vaginal births in the United States.
“Given our findings, especially in light of other observational studies published in the last decade, I think it’s time to start shifting the discourse around home birth in this country,” Melissa Cheyney, a medical anthropologist at Oregon State University and lead author on the study, said in a press release. “We need to start focusing on who might be a good candidate for a home or birth center birth and stop debating whether women should be allowed to choose these options.
Only 5.2 percent of the women needed to have a cesarean section to successfully deliver their baby.
“Home birth is not for every woman and risk factors need to be weighed,” she added. “But the evidence strongly suggests that a healthy woman with an uncomplicated delivery and a single, term baby in a head-down position can safely give birth outside the hospital.”
Researchers said women in the study were primarily healthy and their pregnancies were low-risk which contribute to the low mortality figures and cesarean rates reported at U.S. hospitals.
“One of the biggest risk factors we did find is with breech births, which have a higher mortality rate than do head-down babies,” said Cheyney, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Liberal Arts who also is a practicing certified professional midwife. “Most breeches are known prior to birth and many breech babies may successfully be turned to a head-down position prior to delivery.
In the last nine years, home births have increased by up to roughly 40 percent, but is still only 1.2 percent of all deliveries.
Researchers analyzed data collected by the Midwives Alliance of North America Statistics Project. Of the nearly 17,000 women in the study, most were attended by Certified Professional Midwives who reported on the outcomes of the births.
The women who participated in the study were predominately white and married with 58 percent of them being college educated, according to Marit Bovbjerg, a postdoctoral research associate in epidemiology in Oregon State’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences and a co-author on the study.
The study will be published in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health.