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Home births can be 'harmful,' journal says
July 29th, 2010
06:42 PM ET

Home births can be 'harmful,' journal says

Moms have a right to “choose how and where to give birth,” says an editorial from the medical journal Lancet, “but they do not have the right to put their baby at risk.”

A strongly worded editorial in the British publication,  “Home Births –Proceed With Caution” cites other studies that had found that “home birth can, after all, be harmful to newborn babies."

A recent article from the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology showed that planned home births compared with planned hospital births doubled the risk of neonatal deaths, with breathing difficulties and failed attempts at resuscitation playing major factors.

But home births in the United States and European countries are increasing.

Vaginal births after C-section usually OK, docs say

The editorial continues to say that hospital delivery should be the preferred method of delivery for high-risk pregnancies and wrote that the desires of the mother and the health of the children “are competing interests that need to be weighed carefully.”

Do you have a story to share about home births?  Tell us on iReport.  Your story may be used in a CNN.com story.


soundoff (655 Responses)
  1. h4x354x0r

    Bullshit. Study the data. Hospital births have much higher rates of post natal infection. Hospital births have statistically worse outcomes. At least in the US, hospital births are all about CYA and insurance reimbursement. Both mine were born at home. The 2nd one with a prolapsed cord. For one, our midwife deftly undid the prolapse in a matter of moments. No crisis, no episiotomy, no cesarian. But our new baby boy still needed a little oxygen to spark him up. In the hospital, the oxygen is in a different room. It would have been a chaotic rush to get the two together. At the home birth, the midwife had an oxygen tank within reach and calmly administered within moments.

    Hospitals and all the birth interventions are a lifesaving godsend when you need them, but it's needed far less than it's used. Homebirths are, overall, safer and IMHO far more intimate and rewarding than a trip to the hospital.

    July 30, 2010 at 00:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. dsallen

    Wow! You mean that taking all of the medical advancements up to this point and throwing them out the window could be a bad idea when it comes to giving birth? Who would ever have come up with that?!

    July 30, 2010 at 00:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Amanda

    Wow. Obviously a lot of disagreement on this issue and I don't think that is going to change anytime soon. I just have a couple of thoughts.. I am single and in my 30's and ALL of my friends have kids. I also have nieces and nephews. So I have seen many, many babies born in hospitals and many babies born at home or in a birthing center with a trained midwife. All of the people I know who birthed at home had a trained midwife. With the women I know, complications arising during birth were more frequent during hospital births, as far as, unexplained (and still unexplained) things going wrong. One of my friends only opted for a midwife for child #2 because she had such a horrible hospital experience. I have to say that with all the stories I have personally heard, if I were going to give birth I would lean towards doing it in a birthing center with a midwife. Obviously this is not the choice for everyone, but I think the important thing here is to do your homework. There are good doctors and bad doctors. Some hospitals take more time with moms than others. A midwife spends a lot more time with you, generally, so they know a lot more about your medical history and any issues you have already had during pregnancy (and not because they have to stop and read it off a chart). Some hospitals do a better job than others though, and I guess it depends on your area, feedback from other patients, etc. Women can now make an informed decision about which way they want to go, but I think it is unsafe to have a prejudiced based on not wanting to go the route of "nature loving hippies," or "paranoid germaphobes," who need to be in a hospital. Do your homework, talk to other moms, make an informed decision for yourself.

    July 30, 2010 at 00:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Paul

    So help me out here. It's perfectly ok for a woman to kill her child through abortion right up to nine months, but it's not ok for her to "put her child at risk" by choosing a home birth. So choice really isn't 100% choice? Oh, and I thought it was a "fetus," and not a baby. Maybe it's a fetus when it comes to abortion (since that's a nice term to dehumanize it), and a "baby" when it comes to this issue. I smell something fishy going on here.

    July 30, 2010 at 00:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. bumble28

    Having babies is risky and has been since the dawn of man. If you make the choice to have a baby at home be sure to get a very experienced midwife. Midwives have are great valuable tools for women. A good midwife will never put mother and child at risk and always has a back up plan and a doctor in place in the event of an emergency. I hate how doctors try to sway the masses with fear. Giving birth can be dangerous for any creature, but statistics prove that hospitals can be dangerous to birthing mothers as well.

    July 30, 2010 at 00:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. sheila

    I believe the parents should be educated in all options and choose what's right for them. I've had 5 babies: 2 hospital with doctor, 2 birth center with midwives, 1 hospital with midwife. I can honestly say having a midwife at the hospital was the best of both worlds. But, that's just my experience. Expecting moms should look at all options including types of childbirth classes. Learn your options and choose what works for you!

    July 30, 2010 at 00:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Mac

    This scare tactic article is written by the medical community. The medical community benefits (thousands and thousands of dollars worth..for EACH birth) by a woman giving birth in a hospital. Very few women, in fact, need to have modern medicine involved when it comes to giving birth.

    July 30, 2010 at 00:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. bumble28

    I was always curious as to why doctors put women in such and unnatural position to give birth. Why is that? It does not even look logical.

    July 30, 2010 at 00:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kisha

      Because it is easier for THEM. No bending or crouching they can sit up and be eye level.

      July 30, 2010 at 01:10 | Report abuse |
  9. Katrinanyc

    The problem with the editorial is that it is featured in a British publication, where birth isn't a business, as it is in the States. Had such an editorial been published in the Netherlands or any other European country where home births are as supported as hospital birth, the reaction from the medical profession on such a piece may not be as welcomed as it is in the States.

    July 30, 2010 at 01:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Elizabeth

    This journal is total bs. Hospitals have a much higher rate of newborns dying than home births. It's a no-brainer that HIGH-RISK cases should be in hospitals. But home births are far safer, and better for the baby and mother.

    But don't listen to me. Do your research, ladies.

    Just one other thing to note: The US has one of the highest infant mortality rates - something that increased as home births decreased (home births were more common than hospital births as recently as the early 20th century in the US.

    July 30, 2010 at 01:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Fatherof4w1onDway

    Out of all our children, we've had one at home. The one at home was, by far, the best with the least complications. Hospitals are, by nature, a high stress environment and not the best place to have a baby. They may be appropriate for some high risk pregnancies, but over all they push too hard for unnecessary interventions and drugs. Most of what they push is to make things easier for the doctor, and sometimes for the mother, but many times they put the baby in unnecessary risk. I speak all this from personal experience.

    July 30, 2010 at 01:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Kisha

    For all the people that know nothing about midwifery and home births here is a little information for you. First midwives get their masters in nursing. With this comes so many years of ICU experience, and a lot of places are replacing Doctors with Nurse Practitioners. And then on top of it they then have to go through 2 years of training in Midwifery after having to had worked in a maternity ward for 2 years. Midwives are not little old ladies and hippes just winging it anymore. They are smart, well educated and well trained on the birthing process and pre and post natal care. Your Doctors see birth as something that needs to be "treated" or "fixed". They go to school to fix something that is broken, nothing is broken during the birthing process. Midwives spend 2 YEARS studying nothing but the birthing process which is a lot more focused than what a Doctor does. Also in a hospital 1 out of every 3 women will be talked into a unnecessary C-section. Most c-sections are done between 3-5 so Doctors can be home for dinner and then again at 10-12 so they can go to bed. The don't care about the patients as much as they do about the paycheck or what is best for THEM. Your Doctor probably wouldn't recognize you on the street. Your midwife is with you EVERY step of the way, they never leave your side, they help coach you through it and the become part of your family. Most Doctors come in with barley enough time to gown up to catch the baby. If you have a pregnancy that is not high risk there is no reason you should not have a happy health home birth.

    July 30, 2010 at 01:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Holly, CNM

    I'd like to reference a previous CNN article stating that the US has the "second worst newborn death rate in the modern world". http://www.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/parenting/05/08/mothers.index/ Although this article is from 2006, the statistics remain quite similar.

    The US spends more money on health care than any other country, and more money on maternal care (prenatal care, labor, birth) than any other type of hospital care according to Amnesty International. This means we spend more caring for pregnant women (where little has changed) than we do caring for people having heart attacks or strokes or massive trauma. Yet we continue to have worse statistics than 40 other countries.

    Less than 1% of women birth in their home, so can we really claim that home birth is the biggest thing harming babies?

    July 30, 2010 at 01:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Seth

    This article is a bunch of crap. I've had all 3 of my kids at home with a midwife and it was amazing. All 3 kids are healthy and and I wouldn't trade the experiences for the world. It's a crime that birthing babies has become a business in this country, where hospitals recommend C-sections to every mother that comes through just to keep their assembly line style of birthing going faster. It was only in the 20th century that giving birth started being treated as a medical problem. Before that midwives had delivered babies for thousands of years. I hope that at some point, people will realize what the for profit medical care system in this country is doing and shut them down. Until then... midwives FTW!

    July 30, 2010 at 01:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Moki

    In everyday nature as the Gods Designed it, birth happens naturally as evident in the multidute of Living Things all around us. We can see this, but many times we tend to believe we are the gods of the universe even though with very limited knowledge.

    Pitiful little bastards we are in our evolution of consciousness... we do not even know who we are... why we are... and how we have come to be, yet we must play god.

    Moki

    July 30, 2010 at 01:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Joan

    Everyone in my extended family has been born at home for many generations and continue to do so, and we're all alive and well. Why do we have to make childbirth a medical condition?

    July 30, 2010 at 01:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Peter

      Yay Joan! People treated my wife like an invalid while she was pregnant, but she'd never felt better in her life.

      July 30, 2010 at 08:22 | Report abuse |
  17. Cassidy

    What's REALLY harmful is propaganda like this!

    July 30, 2010 at 01:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Oleg

    Ah, but has the effect of alternative investment of the $10000 the hospital birth costs on baby safety been considered? This money could buy a lot of preventive prenatal and infant care. Or a much safer car and carseat. Or a really thorough baby proofing of the home... Only a few medical procedures are cost effective compared to other measures to improve one's overall health, cancer risks and so on.

    July 30, 2010 at 01:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Pier Giacalone

    My wife had both of our sons at home. The way home birth is portrayed in most of the comments here is absurd. You train for it. You monitor the health of the baby and progress of its growth leading up to it and then the birth itself is attended by a trained midwife who is just as capable of clearing the baby's airway, disentangling an umbilical cord as anyone in a hospital. Yes there can be complications which is why anyone doing a home birth has a plan in place with a doctor on notice. Most people here seem to forget that the umbilical cord itself is still providing oxygen to the baby. If this wasn't the case all babies would be born dead. Home birth is NOT for everyone but there are a million opportunities to figure long before the "event" whether you should be doing it or not. Granted if more hospitals would actually set up proper birthing centers and allow parents the freedom to choose things like NOT having their baby's eyes swabbed with antibiotics and NOT immediately giving blood and NOT cutting the cord the second the baby pops out, then I think there would be fewer women choosing that path.

    The key point is that giving birth is NOT a medical procedure UNLESS something goes wrong. Doctors and hospitals simply don't know any other way to treat it and cause more trouble than they relieve by using drugs for inducing. The combination of these drugs with the counter-effect of pain meds like epidurals is the reason the for the skyrocketing rate of C-Sections in this country. If you're not down for childbirth than don't do it. There are plenty of kids who need adopting in this world.

    July 30, 2010 at 02:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. BonBonKC

    I am the mother of 3 and after the birth of my first 2 sons would have told any who would listen that a home birth would have been less stressful and I wished I would have done so. BUT.....on baby #3, which was a picture perfect pregnancy,all normal for the start of labor....had he been born @ home there is a strong chance we would have both DIED. It was not my first rodeo so to speak and we did not rush in when labor started, we arrived at the hospital and I was @ about 5cm...My OB checked me and did not like what she felt.....I had an appt. the previous day and baby was presenting head down and all was well. Only 1cm and 50%.........my son had flipped breach in the last 24hours and was decending through the birth canal pushing the umbilical cord first. Had i been @ home the pull of the cord would have torn the placenta loose and i could have bleed to death and my son drown on blood in the birth canal. I am not saying the system is perfect but if one educates oneself and has a trustful relationship with their Dr., it IS the best situation to give birth and provide care IF it is needed. I am not willing to risk it, If one is then let the chips fall on them as they may and hope innocent life is not the cost.

    July 30, 2010 at 02:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • K

      BonBonKC, if your vaginal exam had been done at home by a midwife, s/he would have felt exactly the same thing. As a matter of fact, s/he may have identified your baby's position first by doing Leopold's maneuvers on your abdomen (docs rarely bother and just go straight for the internal), and saved you the vaginal exam. You then would have transported to the hospital.

      July 30, 2010 at 17:03 | Report abuse |
  21. QueenMommy

    I don't get this at ALL! I had two babies in the hospital (two different hospitals). Both experiences left me convinced my babies would have died if I hadn't been in a hospital and both left me feeling like there was something wrong with me. They also both left me hating doctors, labor nurses and hospitals. When we decided to try for #3 we interviewed midwives with the idea that we would have a midwife in the hospital. Afte 7 mos of her educating, talking and empowering us, we decided to "attempt" a homebirth. That was the first time my water broke on it's own, I felt the urge to push, and my child came without forceps or vaccum extraction! He also came in less then 3 hours and the midwife didn't make it! My hubby and I delivered a pink, smiling (I'm not kidding) almost 8# boy all by ourselves in the quiet of our own home while my girls slept a room away. The midwife came, checked us both out, changed the bedding, made sure I was nursing okay and left us sleeping. She came back the next afternoon and the day after that to check on us! When we decided to have #4 we were featured on the local news in a story about home births. They even interviewed a dr that said with an uneventful and healthy pregnancy most moms and babies are safer at home! Having home births has strengthened my relationship with my hubby, has increased my self esteem and empowered me to ask doctors questions instead of blindly taking their advice. I've learned that even most of the testing they do in pregnancy is unreliable and can be risky. I now have 4 healthy children. We see the dr yearly and we discuss vaccines and medications openly with our doctor when they are needed. None of my friends have had or wanted home births. I don't push my beliefs on them. I don't try to convince them, "educate" them, or change them. I believe your labor and delivery are safest where you are most relaxed and comfortable. However, I've had 3 friends with c-sections, 2 friends had their babies rushed to NICU all but one came out of the hospital with "medical" reasons why they couldn't nurse their babies. I think all of them came out of the hospital believing that something was wrong with them since they couldn't deliver a baby without intervention the way I did. There is more wrong with the hospital births than just the physical results we see.

    July 30, 2010 at 02:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Sundog

    Blah Blah Blah. All I see here are people arguing once again, how to control women's reproductive choices by putting the baby before her personal sovereignty. You choose. You face the consequences of those choices period. Whether you go to a hospital or a free standing birth center or stay at home or squat in a dirty reindeer stall. This mentality of one size must fit all is just so much poop. It doesn't work that way. You will have issues no matter where you go. Doctors, if you want more women having babies in hospitals, then start treating us like adult human beings who possess working brains, who have civil rights. Stop unecessarily cutting us on our private parts, forcing c-senctions, and making women feel crazy everytime they express a concern, or scaring the crap out of us with worst case scenarios every time you want us to make the decision that most benefits YOU. And for heaven's sake, move birthing wards to a separate building. I don't want to share my birthing area with people who have had to undergo treatments for MRSA or other serious infections. Within a few hours in a hospital, every germ on the floor is in a woman's vagina. Thanks but no thanks Doc. My house is cleaner, heck my litter box is actually cleaner. And I don't have to remind my midwife to wash her dang hands {its like the 1400s all over again!}

    July 30, 2010 at 02:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Debra

      Thank you! I love enlightened women!

      July 30, 2010 at 08:01 | Report abuse |
    • Max Neely

      +1

      July 30, 2010 at 09:03 | Report abuse |
  23. J

    This is in repsonse to poster saying that there could be 1 to 2 minutes for a child to be emergency delivered if the cord got wrapped around its neck, and another poster saying 1-2 minutes baby would already have problems. I can attest that if my son had been born at home he would have been dead.

    I had a normal healthy pregnancy, I went into the hospital...now before we went in, at 35 weeks I had to sign all of the consent forms, so maybe some hospital require signatures during never heard or other people saying they had to either. So when I went in , I was in my room walking, sitting on a bouncy ball, and leaning against the bed. I was laid on the bed to give a 20 minute monitor on my son, when they saw his oxygen level drop. All of a sudden the machine had a high pitched beeping noise. I was rushed out of the room into the OR, my husband was thrown into scrubs, ran down the hall. My son was delivered in less than 3 minutes (husband had on his G-shock watch) with the umbibical cord wrapped around his neck twice. If he had been naturally delivered, he would have died..... how do we know. My husband grandmother couldn't get to the hospital on time, she delivered her son in the neighbors house... He died, cord wrapped around his neck as well.

    July 30, 2010 at 02:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. decredico

    Hospital births can be harmful. This is some serious propaganda. If home births were so harmful the human species would not be here since we got by on "home births" for the first 70,000 years or so.

    July 30, 2010 at 03:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. MWF

    I was scheduled to have my first child at a birthing center. At 31 weeks I started labor and rushed to the emergency room and eventually had a C-section due to the baby being breech. After delivery, my daughter was taken to the NIC unit and was doing fine. Two weeks later I received a call saying she needed surgery to remove part of her intestine – they had discovered she had necrotizing enterocolitis. Unfortunately, she could not recover from surgery and we lost her. For all those who say they prefer home birth to a hospital birth, I just want to say that risking harm or death to your child, even if it were a 1% risk, is not worth it, the pain of losing your child is far worse than what any hospital could ever do to you.

    July 30, 2010 at 05:38 | Report abuse | Reply
    • K

      I'm sorry for your loss, MWF.

      What I'm hearing you say is that you had a high-risk birth appropriately in a hospital, a premature baby who got every bit of medical help available, and who still sadly died. Your post is a reminder that pregnancy and birth is not always normal and that when it's not, medicine is an immense gift... and that it is not an absolute guarantee of a good outcome.

      July 30, 2010 at 17:09 | Report abuse |
    • MWF

      Yes, nothing is ever guaranteed. Having a baby is really a life or death situation. If you can hold your baby in your arms, and your child is alive and healthy, it doesn't matter where or how you delivered, the important thing is everyone is ok. Having a baby is natural, but it is also serious business, meaning it can be unpredictably dangerous. If a hospital can provide even a tiny bit more help in making sure I stay alive and so does my baby, I would go there, and I did for my second child, as nothing else mattered to me. Every birth is different, every hospital experience is different, make your choices the best you can, but don't take anything for granted.

      August 2, 2010 at 01:40 | Report abuse |
  26. Dr Bill Toth

    Mother nature has been delivering babies for a lot longer than doctors have.

    July 30, 2010 at 06:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. CluedUp Dads

    Birth at hospital with doctors, nurses, equipment and expertise, or birth in the living room with next to nothing...I know which option we'll be choosing in October!!! Why take the risk?

    July 30, 2010 at 06:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. cmkc

    We have even let money change and remove "natural" from childbirth. We are just animals, folks and all animals give birth and don't seem to need childbirth to be treated like a disabilit or an illness that necesssitates hospitalization. After milliions of years, "doctors" convince women that they need to be in a hospital – why? Money. Midwives were drummed out of the picture when doctors stepped into the picture and wanted to take over the process for profit. And women fall docilely into the helpless, hapless role of requiring this modern day mollycoddling. As @decredico said – this is such propaganda.

    July 30, 2010 at 07:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeanne

      This is all well and good until it is you or your baby who dies.

      July 30, 2010 at 07:55 | Report abuse |
    • Max Neely

      You can die at a hospital, too, in a high risk birth scenario. Homebirths are generally not done if they are high risk. Low Risk Home birth vs Low risk hospital birth are essentially the same likelihood of success/failure with the measure being casualties.

      July 30, 2010 at 09:01 | Report abuse |
  29. momof5

    Home births are actually less risky. There have been lots of studies on the subject. And it's been they way of having babies much longer than hospital births, which began in the 20's and 30's. In hospital you and your baby are more likely to pick up an infection. You are more likely to have drugs, even if you had not planned on it, and you are more likely to be given an unnecessary C-section.
    A mid wife, who delivers babies at home or a free standing birthing center, knows how to help a baby or mother in distress. They are as capable as any doctor in a hospital. The difference is that they practice a more natural and alternative form of birth. Meaning, they tend to use hypno-birthing, massage, herbal and aromatic remedies. Instead of drugs which will dope up you and YOUR BABY. In terms of high risk pregnancies. A mid wife will refer you to someone else if you are high risk. They will never put you or your baby in jeopardy.
    I have had 5 children. 3 in hospital, 1 at a birthing center, and my last at home. If I could do it all over I would have them at home. It was way more relaxing to not worry about someone hearing me moan in labor or crying or yelling or whatever the case may be. It was nice to know that the person delivering my baby would be focused solely on me and not other people as well.
    I understand that lots of people feel this is unsafe. But if you do the research you will find this to be safer than a hos[ital.

    July 30, 2010 at 07:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jeanne

      I find the statement that a midwife is as capable to handle a crisis a joke. I guarantee you the doctor's training and expertise is way higher than the midwife's, especially if you do your research about the quality of your ob/gyn.

      July 30, 2010 at 07:54 | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      Jeanne,
      The philosophy of the midwives that helped us birth our child is that they are there to attend the birth, not manage it. Moms who are in tune with their bodies naturally know how to give birth. A great portion of the training of a certified nurse midwife is to instantly identify any warning signs that indicate complications, and to make sure the mama and baby get to a hospital ASAP in such an instance. We birthed at a midwifery, but were 5 minutes from an OR (across the street) if something went wrong. It was an excellent situation, and cost half as much as a hospital.

      July 30, 2010 at 08:17 | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      And of course, certified nurse midwives to NOT attend births of high-risk pregnancies. That's when the expertise of the OB comes into play. There is no difference in outcomes of low-risk, healthy pregnancies, regardless of where mom chooses to birth. NO DIFFERENCE.

      July 30, 2010 at 08:18 | Report abuse |
  30. gil

    Think it is odd that "desires of the mother" and "health of the children" are described as separate factors. My sister-in law had a home birth with devastating consequences, my nephew is now physically/mentally impaired. I think the desire of the mother should first and foremost be a healthy baby. We all hate hospitals but you do what you have to, use the medical resources available to us in the developed world insure your child is born healthy. If not you may face a lifetime of regret and guilt over knowing you had a perfectly healthy child, that was then impaired because of your decision..

    July 30, 2010 at 07:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Jeanne

    I had three very nice experiences in the hospital with my 3 kids. I can't imagine having a baby at home, or taking the chance of something going wrong. I was assigned my own personal nurse, had a huge room with room for 30 people to watch if they wanted (okay, it was just my husband and sister, but I could have), and was very well taken care of. I will never understand how people can take the risk, but to each his own. Of course, these are the same people who will sue the midwife if something goes wrong.

    July 30, 2010 at 07:50 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Peter

      There is no increase of risk factors with home birthing if the pregnancy is healthy and low-risk. Published statistics bear this out.

      July 30, 2010 at 08:13 | Report abuse |
  32. CrazyKids'Mom

    The saddest trend that I am reading over and over again in these comments is the lack of faith and trust that people have in their medical professionals. I am in the home stretch of my 4th pregnancy, one was lost, and the other two were diagnosed with major medical problems in utero that required immediate intervention upon being born. Our fourth (and final) has also been diagnosed with a minor defect that may or may not require medical intervention. (and none of these defects are related or could have been predicted, and we have also had extensive genetic testing done...we have just had luck that is this bad.) Other than being induced, due to the need to have a surgical team somewhat ready to go when they were delivered, both of my birthing experiences were very positive. It would have been very easy to pressure me into having a c-section, just so that both teams of doctors could get on with their lives, however, BECAUSE MY HUSBAND AND I DISCUSSED IT EXTENSIVELY with both teams prior to delivery, they respected our wishes to do things a "naturally" as possible, and helped us in every way. Both sides compromised and worked together to achieve the best possible results for everyone involved. I would not have continued to work with a medical team that I was not comfortable with and that I didn't feel that I knew very well prior to delivery. Getting ready to have a baby doesn't happen over night. That is one of the few luxuries, you have time to find a team to work with, whether it is a midwife, a nurse midwife, an OB/GYN, or whatever path you choose. Additionally, my OB/GYN works in a practice with several other doctors. We have met with all of the doctors, and have respectfully declined to be treated by several of them because we just didn't feel that they were the kinds of doctors that we wanted to deal with in this situation. The practice has been very understanding and accepts our decision. And, if they didn't, it would be our choice to find someone who would. Medical personnel are not gods. Most of them are just people who are trying to do their job as well as possible, just like the rest of us. Patients should not be afraid to speak up or make their wishes known, and if they fail to do that, well, then it is their fault if they do not receive the care that they want. My husband and I often joke about what the staff must say when we're gone, but when it comes down to it, I am the customer, I am paying them for a service, and I have the right to make my expectations known. When it comes to my kids and their health, I'll stand up to anyone and make sure I'm making the best decision that I possibly can.

    July 30, 2010 at 07:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Pat

    Don't be surprised if someone is charged for involuntary manslaughter for a child's death resulting from a home birth in the near future

    July 30, 2010 at 07:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Debra

    I beg to differ. Having babies in the hospital also has it's risks: high incidence of infection, of unnecessary intervention, of death in hospitals! How many moms have I heard talk about nurses holding their legs together while waiting for the doctor to get there? Inductions, episiotomies, screwed up deliveries that resulted in life changing injury to infants. Any decent midwife works with the mom and baby on their time, not because they have to go on vacation, or it was their day off and they want to get this over with. Why do you think medical malpractice has soared?

    July 30, 2010 at 08:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sconstance

      First, this is not why medical malpractice has soared and midwives who provide home births also have significant medical malpractice insurance as well because of the current political policies that seriously need some tort reform. Second, if a nurse held a woman's legs together while in labor, she and the hospital could be sued for this. Whoever told you this is full of it or they were being held in captivity and tortured. With all of that said, you are correct that there are other risks associated with hospital births that are less likely to occur with a home birth but it's much more complicated than that. A woman has a choice of how she wants to do this and if she asks for drugs then her risk for having other interventions goes up as well. Doctors are also more likely to perform an episiotomy which is unfortunate but some women actually believe this is better than tearing. Not what I would want but again, back to a woman's choice. Most of my friends have had home births and while most went ok, I know of at least one that didn't and it became pretty serious. It happens either way you go. It would be nice to see more doctors and midwives coming together as a team to improve overall quality and safe practices. I have seen this work in a few places and it's really great but egos get in the way of this kind of collaboration unfortunately.

      July 30, 2010 at 09:27 | Report abuse |
  35. habepte

    This is just like the debates about breastfeeding or not. We can not get personal because labor and childbirth is a personal desion. Childbirth is risky and dangerous no matter how you do it. If a woman perfers to have a home-birth than let her, if she wants a hospital birth let her and respect her desions. My mother-in- law had all 7 of her children via home-births and all were healthy and survived. Both my sister-in-laws and myself have had hospital births and have been fine. Each area of the country and the hospitals play a part, some or better than other. The hospital that my sister-in-laws and I delivered in has a whole wing just for birthing, with beds that can be set up in a sitting positions with handles and bars if a woman wants to labor sitting, standing, ect the option is there. One of my sister-in-laws (FZ) had a very complicated 1st birth. She labored for 4 days and a c-section was an option, but she wanted to try for a natural birth and her OBG (also mine) allowed her to until her health and the baby's health were in jeopardy. That is when she had the C-section. My other sister-in-law wanted drugs to reduce pain and she had her wish and had 2 heathy children. Myself I went into premature labor 5 wks before my due date. They stopped my contractions because they could not confirm that my water had broke (when I went in I was 3 cent. dilated, and contractions were every 3-4 minutes); and I did not know I was in labor until my water broke at home (I would not feel the contractions). I was induced (that is hell) 10 hrs later because they wanted to see if my contraction would come back on their own and they did not. I gave birth 5 hrs later with about 2 hrs of hard labor and I had a natural (no pain drugs) birth. My son had complications and was in the NICU for a week, but he is know a healthy 4yr old. I think it has to do with your health, your opinion, your attitude about what you want. I can say that the hopital that we gave birth in really tries go by your wishes. A lot of things about a hopital birth has to do with your OBG and there way of thinking. I have a woman OBG who doesn't believe in giving drugs at a drop of a hat, and listens to what you want. I am expecting my 2nd son and he will be delivered in the hospital; that's my choice. This has to do with choice! Everyone should be respectful regardless of your feelings towards the subject. Just a side note. There are women that chose to have a Csection because it is easier on their bodies than a natural birth (that is there choice), and I know that there are hospitals that try to push people into things that they do not want. However, you have the right to say no, and use your voice.

    July 30, 2010 at 08:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Momofmany

    I am getting ready to give birth to baby #4, I can't imagine having a home birth and risking the health and life of my baby. I've been lucky and given birth to healthy babies, but for me, the chance of something happening is not worth it.

    July 30, 2010 at 08:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Peter

      If you're low-risk, there is no statistical difference in outcomes regardless of where you decide to birth. Your body is designed to do this. Good luck on baby #4!

      July 30, 2010 at 08:11 | Report abuse |
  37. Peter

    Of course you want to be in a hospital for a HIGH-RISK pregnancy. But statistics bear that outcomes are the SAME for low-risk pregnancies whether baby comes in a hospital, a midwifery, or at home. And you're much more likely to have unnecessary interventions in a hospital setting, where the agenda of the medical staff can take precedence over the mother's wishes if she's not insistent on the type of birth she prefers.

    July 30, 2010 at 08:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Eva

    I would just like to say that I was born at home and I'm very proud of it. I was a healthy 9 lbs. and my mom had me naturally.

    July 30, 2010 at 08:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. John

    Of COURSE they would say that, if you give birth at home the hospital makes no money. It is ALWAYS about money. If it wasn't, the hospital would not charge for a woman to give birth there. After all, natural birth is not a medical procedure, requires no drugs, requires no equipment. I propose, that if hospitals are so fired up about the risk to newborns, then a) they should offer the use of birthing facilities FREE, (pay the midwife of course), and they should provide a bed for an overnight stay for free as well. Only if they actually provide a medically necessary service, should the hospital charge.. how is that now? Oh and C sections would have to be justified in writing and available for review by an independent party. If that indpendent party decides the C section was unnecessary, the hospital should pay damages to the woman. Sound fair Ladies?

    July 30, 2010 at 08:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Max Neely

      I wish I could like this. /like

      July 30, 2010 at 08:57 | Report abuse |
  40. Amanda

    I just gave birth in May, in a hospital where I ended up with an emergency C-section. I felt abused by the staff and doctors and felt that my labor induction was done poorly and led to the emergency C. I felt the baby and I were 'cared' for by indifferent staff, so I definitely see why women would want to give birth at home. However, I know I could never choose a home birth due to the worry I would have over emergency situations. Is there a way to achieve a balance between medicine and care for laboring women and newborns?

    July 30, 2010 at 08:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Peter

      Find a midwifery in close proximity to a hospital. We had an unbelievable birth experience.

      July 30, 2010 at 08:53 | Report abuse |
    • Max Neely

      Amanda, if it brings you any comfort: Our midwife was trained in CPR and all kinds of first aid administration. She had her own oxygen tanks as well. She also had most importantly the knowledge of the difference between a safe homebirth scenario and a high risk homebirth scenario.

      I am sorry you were treated so poorly.

      July 30, 2010 at 08:57 | Report abuse |
  41. ssaattbb

    Wow. Home births used to be the norm. How did we ever get out of the 19th century????

    July 30, 2010 at 08:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Christina

    I had a wonderful water birth at home with a very skilled midwife. I am thankful that I had the option to have my son this way.

    July 30, 2010 at 08:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. SAM

    To the DOCTORS POCKETS

    July 30, 2010 at 08:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Max Neely

    So yeah, my TWIN boys were born in a planned home birth. Stop spreading misinformation. Of course homebirths CAN BE more dangerous.

    I'd say it's more likely you'll die in a car accident en route to the hospital.

    Please, don't buy into this folks. Home births are perfectly safe if executed properly and if the midwife is ETHICAL and knows their own limitations as well as the circumstances that may mean a trip to the hospital is necessary.

    I am a 24 year old male. Generally your typical male. I was largely against home birth until I saw it in action, and had contingency plans explained to me..and then the actual birth itself. It can be a great way for mothers and babies to have a better first bonding, it can also be dangerous if NOT DONE properly.

    Please do your own research and decide for yourselves, do not let this article decide for you. I wish happiness and health to any families considering the best way to birth their child, whether it is at home or in a hospital.

    July 30, 2010 at 08:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sconstance

      Great comment Max. I wish CNN had been more thorough in its article about what the actual outcomes of the study really were.

      July 30, 2010 at 09:18 | Report abuse |
  45. Jane

    Women having been giving birth since the beginning of time. Not men. It is a completely natural experience. Yes, things can happen. They can happen in ANY situation. I would not have given birth any other place than my home. Thank you very much. Leave that decision to the Mother and Father. Trust that all will be well, and it will.

    July 30, 2010 at 08:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. A's mommy

    I am of the opinion that I should be most concerned about the health and safety of my baby that's coming, not about the ambiance of the birthing experience. Like MarkinFL described his situation, what happens when you're at home and complications arise that put your baby's life in danger because you may then realize that you do in fact need to be in a hospital? I think it's selfish to think of your experience and possibly putting your baby's life at risk instead of being on the safe side and being where you need to be if problems happen. I had my first two in the hospital and there was no pressure to do a c-section or take unnecessary drugs and it wasn't chaotic. My main concern was a healthy baby and that's what I had both times. My third is coming and I'm doing the same.

    July 30, 2010 at 09:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kristina

      I am with you. I am not against home births; if that is your choice, that's fine, but the risks just seem too high. I am not saying that the home itself or the Midwives create the risk, I am just saying that you never know what complications can arise, even during a low-risk pregnancy, so why in the heck would you want to take the chance? That is just my feeling. It's a cost/benefit analysis that just doesn't wash in my head. I also had a good experience with my hospital birth; great nurses, awesome doctor, and everyone was very willing to let me call the shots.

      Also, why does the home birth/natural child birth/breast feeding crowd get so freaking defensive? Have your babies at home, I don't much care, but stop treating people who choose a hospital-birth like they have flawed decision making skills. That's why it's called choice, y'all.

      July 30, 2010 at 11:20 | Report abuse |
    • Pirogi

      As a homebirther myself, and with extensive knowledge of the homebirth "scene," I believe that most women who choose homebirth do NOT choose it for ambiance. Most women who choose homebirth are knowledgeable, educated women who have researched enough to recognize the risks of birthing in a hospital AND of birthing at home. They just choose to take different risks, that's all.

      July 30, 2010 at 11:22 | Report abuse |
  47. c otto

    Two of my three children were born at one, one of whom had a particularly difficult birth. Two decades on, all three are thriving. Home birth was absolutely a positive experience. The hospital born child was delivered in a birthing center, which was established because women finally protested the birth experience being arranged abround the hospital's and the doctor's convenience. And this: "Moms have a right to choose how and where to give birth,' says an editorial from the medical journal Lancet, 'but they do not have the right to put their baby at risk'" is pure malarky, as if women were cattle and only the doctor knows enough to make decisions. That statement is the result of exactly the kind of thinking that made midwife-assisted home birth the best choice for my family at the time.

    July 30, 2010 at 09:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Kerry

    I just recently gave birth to my son and if I had a homebirth he would certainly have died– In this day and age it is better to be safe than sorry– I can't imagine anyone wanting to put their child and themselves at risk.

    July 30, 2010 at 09:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Alert Citizen

    This debate is futile. Just put out the information about
    – procedures,
    – the emergencies that can and cannot be handled at home,
    – some pre-existing conditions that can prove fatal at home
    – success rates of treating emergencies at hospitals Vs at home

    and let people make their own decisions. The population in our country is so polarized that no matter how much you try to convince them against their views, they simply won't. How difficult is that to understand?

    July 30, 2010 at 09:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Diid

    I had both my children at the hospital after I labored at home. I was not preasured to use or take or do anything and they both came 100% natural with no meds. I had a Doula and that was all I needed. Both big healthy babies one 7.5 and one 8 lbs. I was 35 with the first and 40 with the second. I made my choice how I wanted it and I held them to it... My baby stayed with me the entire 24 hour stay and they both went home when I did... I think most Women just need to know they have the right to say NO and they have the right to select how things will happen but be on the safe side to do this in a hospital incase there is a need.

    July 30, 2010 at 09:12 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.