Wednesday, July 24, 2013

British Medical Journal says home births are safer

On the heels of the birth of a new prince, heir to the British throne, it's interesting to reflect that his father William was the first in a long line of royals, to be born in hospital. Even the birth of Will's grandmother (HRH Queen Elizabeth) by C-section occurred in the palace chambers. Also worthy of reflection is the recent study published in the prestigious British Medical Journal (BMJ) announcing the outcomes of 146,752 births. Even for women having their first baby, the home-birth option is still a safer one with 2.3/1000 adverse outcomes for home, compared to 3.1/1000 adverse outcomes for hospital. Admittedly this was a study of births in The Netherlands, which has the highest number of home births in the developed world. 

Would the same findings be translated to other areas? I bet they would, but The Netherlands is blessed with a very large population of midwives who are used to autonomy and the different mindsets of consumers and health professionals where homebirths are not considered an aberration. Even though direct-entry midwifery training has removed the potential for midwives to be trained in a sickness rather than a wellness model of birth, women in countries like Australia and NZ still perceive the hospital as the safe and secure birthing option. While the medical model is not an appropriate one for women whose pregnancy is progressing normally, the vested interests of highly trained obstetricians keep midwives attached firmly to the hospital system and consumers very reluctant to step outside of it. 

BUT all may not be lost ... my elder son, now embarking on his own parenting journey, was recently pleased to confirm to co-attendees at a birthing centre introductory evening, the absolutely normality of birth. He knows what he's talking about, the only one of that large group of prospective parents to have seen a baby (his brother) enter the world, at home, without undue fuss or bother. Let's hope the other parents-to-be were paying attention!

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