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Neonatal Outcomes: Hospital vs. Homebirth In the hospital, 3.7 times as many babies required resuscitation. Infection rates of newborns were 4 times higher in the hospital. There was 2.5 times as many cases of meconium aspiration pneumonia in the hospital group. There were 6 cases of neonatal lungwater syndrome in the hospital and none at home. There were 30 birth injuries (mostly due to forceps) in the hospital group, and none at home. The incidence of respiratory distress among newborns was 17 times greater in the hospital than in the home. While neonatal and perinatal death rates were statistically the same for both groups, Apgar scores (a measure of physical well being of the newborn) were significantly worse in the hospital. Home versus hospital deliveries: a prospective study on matched pairs. Ackermann-Liebrich U, Voegli T, Guenther-Witt K, Kunz I, Zullig M, Schindler C, et al. BMJ 1996;313:1313-8
Meta-analysis of the safety of home birth Birth 1997 Mar;24(1):4-13; discussion 14-6 Olsen O What is the relative safety of homebirth compared with hospital birth? Ole Olsen, a researcher from the University of Copenhagen, recently examined several studies of planned homebirth backed up by a modern hospital system compared with planned hospital birth. A total of nearly 25,000 births from five different countries were studied. The results: There was no difference in survival rates between the babies born at home and those born in the hospital. However, there were several significant differences between the two groups. Fewer medical interventions occurred in the homebirth group. Fewer home-born babies were born in poor condition. The homebirth mothers were less likely to have suffered lacerations during birth. They were less likely to have had their labors induced or augmented by medications or to have had cesarean sections, forceps or vacuum extractor deliveries. As for maternal deaths, there were none in either group.
From a World Health Organization (WHO) report - subsection on Place of Birth: It has never been scientifically proven that the hospital is a safer place than home for a woman who has had an uncomplicated pregnancy to have her baby. Studies of planned home births in developed countries with women who have had uncomplicated pregnancies have shown sickness and death rates for mother and baby equal to or better than hospital birth statistics for women with uncomplicated pregnancies.
Excerpt from the World Health Organization's Summary of Research on Place of Birth from Care in Normal Birth: A Practical Guide Report of a Technical Working Group From a report on homebirth in England: More recently, the 1992 House of Commons Select Committee on Maternity Services, now known as the Winterton report, went to the heart of the issue in the first of more than 100 recommendations and conclusions on pregnancy, labour and postnatal care. On the basis of what we have heard, this Committee must draw the conclusion that the policy of encouraging all women to give birth in hospitals cannot be justified on grounds of safety. Elsewhere the report went further. "There is no convincing or compelling evidence that hospitals give a better guarantee of the safety of the majority of mothers and babies. It is possible, that the contrary may be the case."
Other Homebirth Benefits Homebirth provides many benefits beyond a safer birth. Some families choose homebirth because they believe that their home is the most appropriate place for a new baby to enter their family circle. Some families choose homebirth because they want control over all the circumstances of the birth, including who is present and what the caregiver does to the mother and baby. No Baby Mix-Ups - I used to think it was funny when people said one of the benefits of homebirth was that there was no chance of a baby mix-up . . . no chance of having some other mom nurse your baby, no chance of having your baby circumcised or vaccinated against your will because of a mix-up, and no chance of going home and raising the wrong baby. But it seems that the news lately is full of stories of such mix-ups. - A Calif. hospital admitted 3 more baby mix-ups in one year
Smarter Babies - Mom's Nurturing Boosts Baby's Brain - maternal nurturing is vital to the development of babies' brains. [Dr. Michael Meaney of McGill University, Nature Neuroscience, August, 2000] Homebirth fosters unmedicated births so both mom and baby have high levels of endorphins, the bonding hormones, at birth. Homebirth supports continuous contact between mother and newborn, thereby facilitating breastfeeding and all aspects of maternal nurturing.
[b]Can you say... um... "I see all these $$ signs floating out of my bank account, so let's get together and make a formal statement that, even though there is strong evidence that hb is as safe IF NOT SAFER, we don't support it.' - Dr. ACOG Panel