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.
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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: