(Read full-text article here)
The study looked at 2889 home births attended by regulated midwives in British Columbia, Canada, and 4752 planned hospital births attended by the same cohort of midwives compared with 5331 physician-attended births in hospital. Women who planned a home birth had a significantly lower risk of obstetric interventions and adverse outcomes, including augmentation of labour, electronic fetal monitoring, epidural analgesia, assisted vaginal delivery, cesarean section, hemorrhage, and infection. Newborns born after planned home births were at similar or reduced risk of death, although the likelihood of admission to hospital was higher. The mortality rate per 1,000 births was 0.35 in the home birth group, 0.57 in hospital births attended by midwives, and 0.64 among those attended by physicians, according to the study.
The safety of home births is under debate. American, Australian and New Zealand Colleges of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose home births while the United Kingdom's Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Royal College of Midwives are supportive, as are midwife organizations in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Canada's Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has encouraged further research into the safety of home birth, and this study addresses that directive.
So when people ask why we would "risk" having a homebirth, I feel confident answering that we aren't doing anything more risky than having a baby in the hospital! In fact, I know that I'm decreasing my risk of unwanted interventions!
Although there are no guarantees when it comes to childbirth, I think it is clear that giving birth at home with a trained midwife should not be viewed as risky, irresponsible or stupid. It should be a valid option for women and their families should they chose it.