According to a new study, women with low-risk pregnancies face no increased risk for home births with a midwife compared to deliveries in a hospital under a midwife’s care.
Almost 11,500 planned home births were compared by researchers with the same number of planned hospital births in Ontario to determine the risk of stillbirth, neonatal death or serious outcomes for newborns.
The risk of adverse birth outcomes differed little between the two groups, said lead researcher Eileen Hutton of the midwifery education program at McMaster University in Hamilton.
The incidence of stillbirth or neonatal death was 1.15 per 1,000 births in the planned home birth group, compared with just under one per 1,000 in the planned hospital birth group.
But Hutton says women who gave birth in hospital were more likely to have interventions such as labour augmentation, assisted vaginal births or cesarean deliveries, compared to those who delivered at home.
A midwife is trained to assist women during childbirth. Many midwives also provide prenatal care for women during pregnancy and care for mothers and newborns after the delivery.
The study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal says about 10 per cent of births in Ontario are attended by midwives, and about 20 per cent of these are at home.