Home Births (Pedcast)

Doc Smo here, your pedcast host, coming at you with another edition of DocSmo.com, the pediatric blog that provides parents with portable practical pediatrics on your time schedule. Today, I am going to bring you some new information about a growing trend: home births. If you have ever considered this option for the birth of a one of your children, make sure to listen carefully to the details of this pedcast.

I guess it’s just human nature to challenge, rebel, and reject those things we don’t like. Take modern western medicine for instance…specifically, delivering babies in hospitals. Some mothers and families don’t like the loss of intimacy and privacy that comes with having a baby within the confines of a hospital. These families argue that humans have been having babies at home, outside hospitals, for centuries and things usually go well. Why not continue to do it that way? Besides, having a baby at home is a lot less expensive, way more private, and home births allow the entire family to participate in the birth process, right? Then these families read about babies being swapped at birth, abducted from the hospital, or acquiring a hospital infection during their stay and they say, “See, I told you so.” Then, the worry part of a mother’s brains take over, they hear about their friends having babies at home, the midwife says everything will be fine, and suddenly the risks of having a baby at home are minimized or not considered at all. Home births are all positive, right?

This is what seems to be happening in the United States in the past few years according the Center for Disease Center in Atlanta. (1) More and more families are choosing home births and unfortunately, more and more babies and mothers are starting to see some of the terrible things that their great grandmothers experienced; a greater number of babies dying during the birth process from complications, more mothers hemorrhaging to death shortly after giving birth, and more moms getting extremely sick or dying from a postpartum illness called “Child bed fever.” While home births are still a rarity in the US–around 1% of all births–the trend is growing, and growing rapidly. The problems are growing as well; check out these stats and see what you think. Depending on the year you choose to look at, when you compare the rate of death among babies born to nurse midwives in and out of a hospital, you can see that the rate of baby death is 3-6 times higher when these deliveries happen at home, despite the fact that the planned home births are generally lower risk pregnancies compared to those delivered in a hospital.
Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 10.59.58 AM

Let’s face it, giving birth is dangerous for both mom and baby. Things can go wrong very fast, and a rapid response by the attendants of the delivery can make all the difference in the world. If a dangerous situation arises during a home birth, a midwife simply can’t provide what modern hospitals can in terms of diagnostic and therapeutic power. I’m reminded of that DocSmo pearl, “A crisis for which you are  prepared is often not a crisis at all.” Make sure you take advantage of all the preparation hospitals offer by having your next newborn in a hospital.

Thank you for joining me today. I hope I increased your pediatric IQ and got you thinking about this important pediatric topic.  Portable, practical pediatrics on your schedule is what we promise and what we deliver every week. Please take a moment to subscribe to my podcast on iTunes, and while you are there, leave a review and tell me how you think I am doing. You can also share your comments on my blog, www.docsmo.com, or share this pedcast by simply sending it to a friend or relative. This is Dr.Paul Smolen, broadcasting from studio 1E, hoping your next childbirth is only filled with mirth. Until Next time.

Smo Notes:



  1. DocSmo says:

    Becky Agnew Cato I have friends on both sides of this – I guess I fall in the middle. I’m grateful for modern medicine, since with my first baby, if I would have had him 100 years ago; I probably would have died during child birth. Small pelvis / bone structure; big headed and wide shouldered baby… my pelvic bone would have broken. I had a c-section; and gratefully everyone was healthy and I’m about to have my 4th baby. I do think mothers should be given the option of giving birth at home, and ultimately the outcome, good or bad, is their responsibility. I hate to see anything bad happen, but we have to be able to take responsibility for our actions and choices. It’s a very fine line… and a difficult one given the litigious nature of our society these days; everyone wants someone to blame when things go wrong, except themselves.

  2. Sarah Leigh says:

    Living in Oregon there are TONS of women who opt for home births. I’ve heard beautiful stories and horrifying ones as well. I think hospital architects and designers are slowly catching on, redesigning maternity wings to have more of the comforts of your home (ie: deep water tubs, spacious rooms, and small things like low-lighting). You can’t plan for what’s going to happen while you’re in labor–period. Labor and delivery nurses are the BEST, and they are there to support you and have your safety and the wellbeing of your child in mind. The minute my child was born and needed some help breathing, the nurses were there with oxygen (while I was holding him). That split second will be engrained in my memory and I try to share it with all of my expecting friends. What many first time moms tend to lose sight of: there are a million opportunities AFTER a safe pregnancy and delivery to parent any way you want. For some reason the act of giving birth has become this incredibly important self-identifying moment for women. And it is, but at the end of the day, it is biology running it’s course. Play it safe and deliver where a highly compassionate and trained staff can save your newborn’s–and your life. Just my thoughts. Gonna go feed my kids a kale smoothie now

  3. Annie Beth says:

    I believe, like the last poster, that hospitals may be catching on to some of the things that spur people to have home births in the first place, and they are trying to bring those things to the consumer. There was a time in American history when women would come to the hospital and be put to sleep to have their baby. We all now know that’s not a great idea. There are other medical interventions that still persist that are less than optimal, and how much unnecessary intervention you receive varies from state to state and hospital to hospital. I think that the ideal is not a standard hospital birth, nor is it a home birth. The ideal would be a situation in which you are allowed to give birth as naturally as possible in a hospital setting that allows for quick medical intervention when needed. When the birth process is being run like a business, women are hustled through it as quickly and painlessly as possible, which may involve drugs that we will later discover should have been used more prudently. Things like delayed cord cutting should not be something you have to argue for, but unfortunately it is. And that type of experience is what is driving women to give birth at home- when they feel their provider may not respect their reasonable wishes, and that in a high stress situation they may end up going along with whatever intervention is deemed the “status quo” for that hospital. I believe that hospital births save lives, but I also believe hospitals need to examine their practices and move toward a more home like atmosphere (for birthing) with minimal intervention and birth practices based on the latest research (such as delayed cord cutting).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *