Updated: Mar 30, 2021
Home birth is on the rise, primarily driven by a desire for an out-of-hospital experience during the pandemic, but is delivering your baby at home safe? This question is hotly contested due to conflicting studies, but the short answer is: yes, for uncomplicated deliveries attended by a certified midwife.
Let’s cut to the data. Studies from the early 2010’s shaped the nation’s guidelines, over-confidently stating that “deliveries at home attended by CNMs and ‘other midwives’ were associated with higher risks for mortality than deliveries in-hospital by CNMs” (Malloy, 2010). These flawed, early publications are to thank for your insurance likely not covering home birth midwives. However, more recent, critical reviews of the data conclude that for “low‐risk pregnancies, planned birth location, and well‐trained birth attendants, there was no difference in neonatal morbidity, Apgar score, and NICU admission” (Elder et al., 2016). Additional studies reveal that home births lead to fewer interventions, cesarean sections, and postpartum hemorrhage (Rossi and Prefumo, 2018). They also found that both home births and hospital births are “similar with regard to neonatal morbidity [diseases] and mortality [death]”.
So if you are interested in a low-intervention birth experience and are in the low-risk category (healthy mother giving birth to one healthy baby at 37-42 weeks), go ahead and feel confident finding yourself a certified home birth midwife.
Malloy MH. Infant outcomes of certified nurse midwife attended home births: United States 2000 to 2004. J Perinatol. 2010 Sep;30(9):622-7.
Elder HR, Alio AP, Fisher SG. Investigating the debate of home birth safety: A critical review of cohort studies focusing on selected infant outcomes. Jpn J Nurs Sci. 2016 Jul;13(3):297-308.
Rossi AC, Prefumo F. Planned home versus planned hospital births in women at low-risk pregnancy: A systematic review with meta-analysis. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2018 Mar;222:102-108.