New research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology shows that women who choose home births might put their babies at a higher mortality risk. The study compared women from the US and Europe who had planned home births to those who had planned hospital births and found that twice the amount of babies died in the four weeks after home delivery. They found triple the mortality rate for babies born at home when “they removed those with congenital defects from the calculation,” according to The Guardian. Many of these babies died from a lack of oxygen during or after labor.
Despite the concerning findings, researchers also pointed out that there are benefits to delivering a baby in the comfort of one’s home.
"Women, particularly low-risk parous [having given birth before]individuals, choosing home birth are in large part successful in achieving their goal of delivering with less morbidity [damage]and medical intervention than experienced during hospital-based childbirth," researchers wrote in the Journal.
Other studies suggest that the infant mortality increase demonstrated by the new data might not be a cause for extra worry. The president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran told The Guardian that in a Scotland-based study, "any difference in outcomes for babies disappeared if women considered at high risk of complications during pregnancy and delivery were taken out of the equation." With screening to check for risk factors, people with resuscitation skills on hand and a backup plan, women having home births can feel more at ease.
As a just-in-case option, Arulkumaran suggests women planning home births should arrange for transportation to the hospital and an extra midwife should they experience problems.
Read more coverage on the study from BBC here