the state

– of the brits and homebirth. by vastate
Wednesday, 15 April 2009, 12:21
Filed under: -of health, -of jhumphrey, -of kiddos

a friend sent a bbc article to me this morning.  it was about a recent study.  the largest study on homebirth ever done.  just completed.


The largest study of its kind has found that for low-risk women, giving birth at home is as safe as doing so in hospital with a midwife.

Research from the Netherlands – which has a high rate of home births – found no difference in death rates of either mothers or babies in 530,000 births.

But a comparison of “low-risk” women who planned to give birth at home with those who planned to give birth in hospital with a midwife found no difference in death or serious illness among either baby or mother.

“We found that for low-risk mothers at the start of their labour it is just as safe to deliver at home with a midwife as it is in hospital with a midwife,” said Professor Simone Buitendijk of the TNO Institute for Applied Scientific Research.

“These results should strengthen policies that encourage low-risk women at the onset of labour to choose their own place of birth.”

let’s just pause for a moment to contrast that statement with the one from our own American Medical Association last year (with help from ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynenecologists):

“That our AMA support state legislation that helps ensure safe deliveries and healthy babies by acknowledging of the concept that the safest setting for labor, delivery and the immediate post-partum period is in the hospital . . .”

okay.  moving on.

and then the definition of “low-risk” mothers according to the study:

Low-risk women in the study were those who had no known complications – such as a baby in breech or one with a congenital abnormality, or a previous caesarean section.

local homebirth advocates, take note.  as i’ve said before, maybe using similar definitions of “low-risk” would help gain support in our own system.

and the british take on the study.  this caught my attention:

UK obstetricians welcomed the study.

huh?!!  and then:

In the UK, the government has pledged to give all women the option of a home birth by the end of this year. At present just 2.7% of births in England and Wales take place at home, but there are considerable regional variations.

Louise Silverton, deputy general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said, the study was “a major step forward in showing that home is as safe as hospital, for low risk women giving birth when support services are in place.

“However, to begin providing more home births there has to be a seismic shift in the way maternity services are organised. The NHS is simply not set up to meet the potential demand for home births, because we are still in a culture where the vast majority of births are in hospital.

“There also has to be a major increase in the number of midwives because they are the people who will be in the homes delivering the babies.”

holy shit.  that’s crazy.  and unimaginable in the current U.S. healthcare system.  can you imagine a similar government response here?  the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists would hit the roof.

so, let me get this straight.  the British government implementing an entire new program:

The Department of Health said that giving more mothers-to-be the opportunity to choose to give birth at home was one of its priority targets for 2009/10.  A spokesman said: “All Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) have set out plans for implementing Maternity Matters to provide high-quality, safe maternity care for women and their babies.”

to help organize the system into one that integrates homebirth into a safe, affordable maternity care system.   and the system is the key.  a safe system is necessary for safe homebirth.


those brits make it seem so easy.

apparently, ACOG and AMA have been unreachable for comment on this most recent study.  or at least, i couldn’t find anything…

so much for evidence-based practice, folks.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Nice job, Jill.

Comment by Boss

I read this also. So, Jill, maybe this is your calling: to change the home birth attitudes in this country, including taking on the AMA and the ACOG. I believe if anyone could do it, you could — seriously.

Comment by Barbra

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