Research on Homebirth

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Click the blue links to go directly to the research.

 “This study is the largest cohort study to date on waterbirth, the first large study from the United States, and the first to report separately on outcomes for mother–newborn dyads who did not complete a planned waterbirth because of risk factors that arose in the intrapartum period. Our results indicate that waterbirth does not confer an increased risk of morbidity or mortality for the newborn, but women completing the second stage immersed in water may experience more genital tract trauma. Our results are congruent with findings from studies in other settings, and contrary to the recently published ACOG/AAP clinical guidelines, suggest that waterbirth is a reasonably safe option for use in low-risk, low-intervention births—especially when the risks associated with other forms of pharmacologic pain management are considered.”
“Descriptive data from the first 6 years (2004-2009) of the MANA Statistics Project demonstrate that for this large, national cohort of women who planned home births under the care of a midwife, perinatal outcomes are congruent with the best available data from population-based observational studies that have evaluated outcomes by intended place of birth and by pregnancy risk profiles. Low-risk women in this sample experienced high rates of normal physiologic birth and very low rates of operative birth and interventions, with no concomitant increase in adverse events. Conclusions are less clear for higher-risk women. Given the low absolute number of events and the lack of a matched comparison group, we were unable to discern whether poorer outcomes among higher-risk women were associated with place of birth or related to risks inherent to their conditions.”

“…It seems increasingly clear that impatience and easy access to many medical procedures at hospital may lead to increased levels of intervention, which in turn may lead to new interventions and finally to unnecessary complications. In a planned home birth assisted by an experienced midwife with collaborative medical back up in case transfer should be necessary, these drawbacks are avoided while the benefit of access to medical intervention when needed is maintained….” September 2012


Interpretation: Planned homebirth attended by a registered midwife was associated with very low and comparable rates of perinatal death and reduced rates of obstetric interventions and other adverse perinatal outcomes compared with planned hospital birth attended by a midwife or physician.

Based on research done in North America.