Study Shows Women Can Safely Choose Where to Give Birth


I was talking with my mother-in-law on Thanksgiving about the hospital where I’ll be delivering the baby this Spring. She is very much of the anti-medical intervention camp (ironic since her son is a doctor) and repeatedly suggested a home birth. She had one 32 years ago, although not intentionally, and raves that it was the best of her 3 birthing experiences.

I am very much on the opposite side of the birth location fence. Being in the medical field, I am very pro-medicine, and being a bit anxious, I am very pro-hospital because I want medical professionals at the ready if something goes wrong. Thankfully our hospital is a nice middle ground in that they are the first “baby friendly” hospital in the country, and they do a great job of merging alternative delivery methods with traditional hospital deliveries.

I’m really happy to be able to deliver there, though I was pleasantly surprised to read a new study that indicates that the alternatives are equally safe for low risk mothers.

The article was published recently through the British Medical Journal and it showed that though there are a few risks to consider, mothers who are considered “low risk” should be allowed to choose their birth setting, whether that is at home, in a birth center, or in a hospital.

They found that the rate of negative outcomes for all the mothers they followed was about 4.3 for every 1000 births in all of the settings they examined, and that there was no significant difference between the births in a labor and delivery ward of a hospital verses the non-traditional settings. However, the rate of adverse events for first time mothers who had planned home births was higher, at 9.3 per 1000 births. It’s obviously not a huge risk, but it was notably higher than the rate of adverse events in first time mothers who had hospital births.

I think the idea of a home birth is lovely, but at the same time, as a first time mom, I feel like I have so little experience and so little knowledge that I want a medical team there to make sure that everything is going as it should be. I know that midwives are well educated and I do not mean to imply otherwise, but for me the lack of equipment in my home combined with the time it would take to get to a hospital is worrisome. Obviously, on the flip side, I know that hospitals births are more likely to become c-sections and that the rates of infection are higher in a hospital, so it’s not without its risks either.

Personally I think the greatest part of the study is that it demonstrates that women have an important say in their birth experience. This study really proves to us that if your pregnancy is considered low risk, you aren’t confined to any one setting, but instead are able to pursue an experience that fits your needs and desires. And when it comes to delivering a baby, I’m pretty sure that any control you can have is a good thing.

Where will or have you chosen to give birth and why?