The research is clear: Homebirth with a skilled practitioner is as safe as hospital birth for low-risk women and, in some key ways, it can be safer. Peer-reviewed research on the safety of homebirth with skilled attendants (almost always midwives) abounds and continues to be conducted on an ongoing basis. This research clearly shows that homebirth offers some critical health advantages over hospital birth for healthy women. Some of the most significant are:
- Reduction in the chances of cesarean section. Even in Santa Cruz County, 29% of women undergo major abdominal surgery to deliver their baby. By comparison, the risk of cesarean section with a planned homebirth is about 4%. There are many reasons for this, but perhaps one of the most important is patience.
- Reduction in rates of infection, for you and your baby. The germs in your environment are familiar to you. Additionally, hospitals don’t just have laboring women; they also have lots and lots of sick people, as well as drug-resistant strains of infectious agents. Homebirth midwives are generally less interventive, which cuts down infection from IV sites, episiotomy, cesarean section, and vaginal exams.
- Better early bonding with your baby. Mothers can bond with their babies everywhere and, of course, they do. But the Midwifery Model of Care includes as a key priority to keep the mother and baby together and consider them a unit. I minimize interruptions and distractions to this critical bonding time. In the absence of a serious problem, your baby will remain on you skin to skin, and anything that needs to be done will be done at your side. You cannot get those first hours after birth back, so consider a care provider and environment that makes bonding a priority.
- Truly individualized care. Because you will have spent more than a dozen hours with your midwife before your labor, she has intimate knowledge of your deepest hopes, fears, and wishes for your birth. You share a connection that goes beyond simple “health care provider” and “patient” roles. In the hospital, there is no guarantee that your doctor or midwife will even be at your birth. Want a water birth? It’s only possible in Santa Cruz County if you give birth at home.