More and more American women choose to give birth at home or in birthing centers instead of hospitals. This method raised the question of how safe it is to give birth outside of a hospital.
A study published this week in The New England Journal of Medicine gives a clear response. The researchers from the Oregon Health and Science University also included a certified midwife, a nurse, two obstetricians and an epidemiologist. The lead author of the study was Jonathan Snowden, who is an epidemiologist.
After analyzing 80,000 pregnant women in Oregon, they found out that the risks of the baby dying at birth or in the first month increased with 2,4% for the babies who were born outside of a hospital. But that wasn’t all. Apparently, the risk of neonatal seizures increases, as well as the chances of the babies to need ventilators. The mothers also have an increased need of blood transfusions. The births of babies with defects, premature or twins were excluded from the study.
The women who gave birth out of hospital have some advantages as well. The mothers had less lacerations and they needed less intervention in order to increase labor. They were less likely to require a cesarean section, with only 5,3% of them asking for it, compared to the elevated 24,7% in hospitals.
Mary Lawlor, the director of the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives has approved the study and said that it was very well done. She also stated that for the sake of the babies, doctors need to learn constantly from research of this kind. The vice chairman of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, doctor Joseph Wax, said that there are advantages and disadvantages when it comes to both types of births. As it seems, the study was well received by both representatives.
Although a small amount of pregnant women choose to give birth at home in the United States, their percentage continues to increase every day. According to statistics, in 2012 the number of births at home or in birth centers increased to 1,28%. In 2004, only 0,79% of the American women chose this way. In 2012, the birth risk was lower at home than in hospitals with fewer preterm babies, teen mothers, low birthweight and multiple births.
The recent growth drew attention to how safe it is to give birth outside of a hospital. A lot of issues like licensing for the midwives, safety issues and the possibility to transfer the pregnant women to the hospital in more dangerous cases are being taken care of.
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