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Safety of Home Births
Home Birth Statistics

A new landmark study* shows that planned home births are safe. The largest study of home births attended by Certified Professional Midwives (CPM), as published in the British Medical Journal, has found that home birth is safe for low risk women and involves far fewer interventions than similar births in hospitals.

Safe & Healthy Outcomes

  • Results are consistent with most studies of planned home births and low risk hospital births
  • Zero maternal deaths
  • Intrapartum and neonatal mortality: 2.0 per 1000 intended home births (only 1.7 per 1000 intended home births when planned breech and twin births are excluded)
  • Immediate neonatal concerns resulted in just 2.4% of newborns being placed in neonatal intensive care
  • At six weeks well over 90% of mothers were still breastfeeding their babies

Home Birth Statistics: Low Rates of Medical Intervention

Much lower rates of interventions for intended home births compared to low risk hospital births:

Interventions Planned Home Birth Hospital Birth
Induction of labor (only with oxytocin or prostaglandins) 2.1%* 21.0%
Stimulation of labor (only with oxytocin) 2.7%* 18.9%
Electronic fetal monitoring 9.6% 84.3%
Episiotomy 2.1% 33.0%
Vacuum Extraction 0.6% 5.5%
Cesarean Section 3.7% 19.0%

* These numbers differ from the BMJ article where data for CPMs included forms of induction and stimulation only used by midwives and not comparable to hospital births.

Satisfied Mothers

Only 1.7% of mothers said they would choose a different type of caregiver for a future pregnancy.

Few Transfers to Hospital Care

  • Only 12.1% transferred to hospital intrapartum or postpartum
  • Five out of six transfers were before delivery, most for failure to progress, pain relief or exhaustion
  • Midwife considered transfer urgent in only 3.4% of intended home births

High Credibility

  • Included all home births involving Certified Professional Midwives in the year 2000
  • 5,418 women in U.S. and Canada who intended to give birth at home as of the start of labor
  • Prospective - every planned home birth was registered in the study prior to labor and delivery

* "Outcomes of Planned Home Births with Certified Professional Midwives: Large Prospective Study in North America." Kenneth C. Johnson and Betty-Anne Daviss. BMJ 2005;330:1416 (18 June). This article and related letters to the editor are available online, free, at http://www.bmj.com (Use the search feature and type Daviss for author to see this and other related articles).


Copyright © Citizens for Midwifery 2005. Permissions to reprint with attribution


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Heart Wisdom Midwifery is the practice of Joan Green, a Licensed Midwife (LM) and Certified Professional Midwife (CPM).
Home birth and water birth services are offered to Marin and Sonoma County families in the San Francisco Bay Area, California.