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Is Homebirthing Really Safe?

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While the majority of pregnancies occur in hospital settings, it is becoming increasingly popular for families to request home births.

With certified nurse-midwives attending more than 306,000 births in 2005, the most recent data available, the American College of Nurse-Midwives strongly supports home births as an alternative for low risk pregnancies.

As the college says, “Every family has a right to experience childbirth within a context that respects cultural variation, human dignity, and self-determination.”

Though a mere 1.3 percent of births occur at home, compared to 96.7 percent at hospitals, and 2 percent in birthing centers, says the ACNM, there are benefits from this more natural option.

As the American Pregnancy Associations says, not only are home births 60 percent more affordable than hospital births, the comfortable environment where a woman is surrounded by family and friend may be more beneficial for some.

Immediate bonding with the baby and breastfeeding are also possible. As the APA states, “Early breastfeeding helps mom stop bleeding, clear mucus from the baby’s nose and mouth, and transfer disease-fighting antibodies in the milk from the mother to the baby.”

However, there are risks associated with home birth deliveries.

According to the Birth Injuries Resource Center, some of the most common birthing injuries included internal bleeding, severe swelling of the scalp, small blood vessel breaks in the eye, facial paralysis, fractures, and cerebral palsy, not all which can be taken care of in the home.

While most midwives and obstetricians only allow home births with low risks pregnancies and urge those with conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and past preterm labors to deliver in a hospital, says APA President Brad Imler, PhD., unforeseeable incidents do arise.

According to the APA a United Kingdom study reported approximately 40 percent of first time moms and 10 percent delivering an additional child were transferred to a hospital for delivery.

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