For the first time ever, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued policy guidelines on home births. While the purpose of the guidelines is to help establish care for newborns and not necessarily “comment” on home births in general, the fact that the AAP is saying anything at all is a big indicator of the times.
The rate of home births has increased significantly over the past few years for white, non-Hispanic women — though total home births remain at less than 1 percent of all U.S. births.
So what does the AAP actually say about home birth?
According to its statement, the AAP says that home births should be “attended by at least two caregivers, including one formally trained to conduct full infant resuscitation and newborn evaluation.” Additionally — and probably the biggest victory for home birth advocates — the AAP advises doctors “to be sensitive to women who consider planned home birthing and provide them with planning information” and states that “it respects the right of women to make a medically informed decision about delivery.”
According to the AAP, the best candidates for home birth will have:
- Absence of preexisting maternal disease or significant disease during the pregnancy
- Singleton fetus born 37 to less than 41 weeks of pregnancy
- Cephalic presentation
- Labor that is spontaneous or induced as an outpatient
- A mother who has not been referred from another hospital
Systems needed to support planned home birth include:
- Available certified nurse-midwife, certified midwife, or physician practicing in regulated health system
- One appropriately trained individual to focus on the newborn
- Ready access to consultation
- Access to safe and timely transport to a nearby hospital with a preexisting arrangement
Be mindful, though, because the AAP is hardly endorsing home birth. Its statement is in overall agreement with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in afﬁrming that hospitals and birthing centers are the safest settings for birth in the U.S.
Read more of Aela’s writing at Two Moms Make a Right
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