Home Birth Advocacy

Recent Home Birth Study Published by American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecologists May Be “deeply flawed.”

8 Comments 02 July 2010

On Wednesday, June 30th, The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecologists published an article about a “new” home birth study.

The “Planned Home Birth vs. Planned Hospital Birth” publication was based on a study gathered from researchers in Portland, Maine. The findings were studied from multiple birth studies all over the world. 342,056 were planned home births, while 207,551 were planned hospital births.

Conclusions of these studies determined:

The women who gave birth at home received lower rates of obstetric intervention such as epidural, augmentation of labor, and cesarean section, lower chances of infection, fewer vaginal lacerations and hemorrhage.

However, the study also found the rate of neonatal mortality to double or triple in the planned home birth group.

“They report that less medical intervention, characteristic of planned home births, is associated with a tripling of the neonatal mortality rate compared to planned hospital deliveries.”

Canadian researchers call the U.S. analysis on home birth “deeply flawed…”

“Patricia Janssen, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia’s school of population and public health, says the conclusion is “sensationalist” and based on data that are in some cases decades old, on very small samples and in some cases incomplete…

In many cases, she says, women included in the studies may not have planned to give birth at home.

They may not have been attended by a properly trained midwife. And much of the data used were retrospectively, gathered using birth records, which may not include enough information.” Taken from Globe Life’s article, also published Wednesday

Dr. Janssen’s published a more recent study last September. Her findings showed no real difference between planned hospital and planned home births. Similar results were found in a recent study of planned home birth in Ontario.

The American College (which is not really a college by the way) of Obstetrics and Gynecologists stand firm on their long standing opposition to home birth.

“ACOG does not support programs that advocate for, or individuals who provide, home births. Nor does ACOG support the provision of care by midwives who are not certified by the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) or the American Midwifery Certification Board (AMCB).”

Mighty funny that this article was published on the very day that the Midwifery Modernization Act passed in New York. Coincidence? I think not.

ACOG and their allies will continue to publish studies and statements that are skewed against home birth.

Ob/gyns do not want you to give birth at home! As a pregnant woman, you are a customer. If you don’t pay the hospital, or the insurance company who pays the hospital, you are taking money away from them.

In my humble opinion, ACOG and the AMA, (American Medical Association, who also stands firm against home birth) would spend less time trying to talk women out of making the choice to birth at home and start improving the disastrous rates of maternal morbidity and skyrocketing c-section in the U.S. (those climbing morbidity & c-section rates go hand in hand).

If more women are giving birth at home, (study shows an increase in home birth) perhaps wanting the quiet and peaceful experience of giving birth at home is not the only reason why…

Maybe women are giving birth at home to escape the unnecessary medical interventions that take place in so many hospitals today. One in three women undergo cesarean section. I would have been one of them had I not given birth at home. Seriously.

Read my story here: Home Birth Saved Me From A C-Section.

Sure, we can always write a birth plan…

But this article Doulas Are Banned, Another Bad Birth Plan, at Birthing Beautiful Ideas points out what might go wrong in that department. And the Feminist Breeder points out Independent Women Will Be Cut. Yikes! No wonder why we want to stay home to birth our babes.

I have a feeling there will be more press on the topic.

p.s. I am a home birth advocate alright, but I’ll never claim that having a natural birth in a hospital is impossible. Heck, I was born that way!

Your Comments

8 Comments so far

  1. Jen says:

    What I found most interesting was the fact that if you look at all the data, as far as I can tell, it actually shows higher mortality rates for hospital births.
    They used this very sneaky statistical trick that involved breaking out a small sub-group, finding a rate for that group then applying it to a larger group. That “three times as high” number came from looking at neonatal mortality in just five percent of the total data — so yes, five percent of the data showed worse outcomes. The other 95 percent of the data showed better outcomes.

    Perinatal mortality, home: 229/331,666
    Neonatal mortality, home: 32/16,500
    Perinatal mortality, hospital: 140/175,443
    Neonatal mortality, hospital: 32/16500

    Total mortality, home: 261/348,160 = .0007496, or .075 per thousand
    Total mortality, hospital: 172/208,745 = .00082397, or .0824 per thousand

  2. Hillary says:

    Thanks so much for pointing this out to us. We were so busy this week activating consumers for the Assembly and Senate vote we completely missed this. Just as well. Every step of the way ACOG (who is now calling themselves the American “Congress” of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) has acted bitterly and dishonestly. It was actually easy to take the high road as we navigated getting the MMA passed because we had the real information, the true voice of the consumer and the true intentions of health and well being for New York State women and families.

  3. Emily says:

    Where can I find a full copy of the article besides the AJOG website? I am able t view an abstract of it(dated 7-2-10) but I would love to read the full thing.

  4. Christina says:

    Thank you for writing this! I had a perfect homebirth VBAC 17 months after a botched c-section nearly ended my life & took 7 months to recover from. I was determined to give birth to my second child in the safety of my own home with a trained VBAC midwife & avoid the hospital if possible, especially after receiving a copy of my “real” chart & learning that the nurses said my baby was in distress to get me to agree to a CS because the OB wanted to start his Thanksgiving vacation. That happens more often than most women realize.

  5. Jessica says:

    Amazing. In most businesses when people start losing customers they look to see what they can learn from the competition. But not doctors. They just decide that the women who are fleeing their hospitals in record numbers are crazy and should be treated like criminals. Sadly this syndrome doesn’t just affect homebirths. It also affects the much larger numbers of women who USED to have in-hospital options for natural childbirth and now are losing them. I didn’t opt for homebirth with my first child because of previous losses that made me want to know the OR was right down the hall in case of emergency. However, I had an unmedicated birth and a beautifully alert and unstressed baby thanks to a wonderful noninterventionist, midwife-trained, strongly pro-breastfeeding family doc. Sadly, he has now been forced out of the local hospital by the other OBs, along with the two other local docs who supported natural birth practices. With my second child my only options are homebirth or driving over an hour to a hospital in another county — or going back to the OBs who tried to trick me into a planned C-Section by telling me I had gestational diabetes when their own tests clearly showed that I didn’t. I think the only option is to educate women — both to the safety of homebirth and to the need for noninterventionist hospital births. The bottom line is that NONE of this would be a problem if doctors treated pregnant women like thinking adults instead of children! The number of women I’ve spoken with who’d been tricked or lied to by doctors pretending to have medical reasons for what turned out to be convenience or malpractice motivated C-Sections is simply astounding. And then they wonder why women don’t want to give birth in hospitals!

  6. Matt says:

    When will people understand that giving birth at hospital is safer than at home. You don’t have to be sherlock to get this. Any alternate view simply demonstrates a lack of common sense….. slightly twisted way of thinking…. simpleton.

  7. Sarah says:

    A hospital birth is not necessarily safer, not with all the interventions that are pushed upon the mother. Until you can have a child yourself do not presume to insult a lack of common sense in women. You have no idea what precautions are taken, what conversations are had with the midwife team, or what is involved in childbirth. The birthing horror stories that are frequently told by mothers are often a result of intervention pushed upon them by the hospital staff, or even a result of choosing pain control. I will continue to choose a home birth unless circumstances in the pregnancy determine otherwise. THAT, my friend is common sense.


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