|February 2011 · Vol. 23, No. 2
Home births “don’t always go well,”
A new Committee Opinion weighs in on the safety of home birth versus hospital management—and finds it lacking.
Although the absolute risk of neonatal death after planned home birth is low, published medical evidence demonstrates that it is two or three times as high as the rate for planned hospital birth. So says a new Committee Opinion from ACOG.1 A review of data by the Committee on Obstetric Practice also found that planned home birth among low-risk women is associated with fewer medical interventions than planned hospital birth is.
“As physicians, we have an obligation to provide families with information about the risks, benefits, limitations and advantages concerning the different maternity care providers and birth settings,” said Richard N. Waldman, MD, president of ACOG. “It’s important to remember that home births don’t always go well, and the risk is higher if they are attended by inadequately trained attendants or in poorly selected patients with serious high-risk medical conditions such as hypertension, breech presentation, or prior cesarean deliveries.” Based on the available data, ACOG believes that hospitals and birthing centers are the safest place for labor and delivery.