You will know that homebirth is safe when THIS happens!

Newborn baby

Many women are confused about the safety of homebirth. On the one hand, homebirth midwives insist that it is as safe (or safer!) that hospital birth. On the other hand, obstetricians insist that it increases the risk of perinatal death; that’s why most refuse to attend them.

The situation is further complicated by dueling scientific studies. The last few weeks alone have seen the release of a Canadian study that showed that homebirth did not increase the risk of infant death and an American study that showed that it did increase the risk of death,  with an increase that dwarfs death rates from SIDS or auto accidents.

There is no doubt in my mind that further research is going to corroborate the fact that homebirth in the US, particularly homebirth with a non-nurse midwife (CPM, LM), is deadly. The real difference between deaths in the hospital and deaths at homebirth with CPMs is probably in the range of 1000%!

But you don’t have to take my word for whether or not homebirth is safe; I could be wrong. You will know that homebirth is safe when this happens:

You’ll know homebirth is safe when neonatologists recommend it.

Neonatologists are doctors who care for critically ill newborns. They have no personal stake in the home vs. hospital debate. If anything, they are more likely to profit from homebirth, which leads to transfers of critically ill newborns whose problems could have been prevented by lower intensity care in the hospital.

Yet, to my knowledge, with rare exceptions, neonatologists recommend AGAINST homebirth. Babies are their only patients and babies’ wellbeing their overriding interest.  And they believe that homebirth puts babies at risk and leads to the deaths of babies who did not have to die.

Mothers are free to opt for homebirth regardless of the risk to their newborns. They may judge that avoiding the risk of a C-section or other interventions is more important than avoiding the smaller risk of perinatal death. But that doesn’t mean they’re choosing homebirth because it is safe. Until neonatologists recommend homebirth as safe for babies, you can be sure that it isn’t.