Home births performed by registered midwives are safe and natural

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Having your baby at home is as safe as birth in the hospital, according to a new study published in the September Canadian Medical Association Journal. In Ontario, as in BC where the study was conducted, Registered Midwives are the only heath care professionals who attend home births.

"Giving birth at home is safe, rewarding and natural," says Lisa Weston, RM, Vice-President of the Association of Ontario Midwives. "When a client's pregnancy is progressing normally and she wants to have her baby at home, we develop a plan together so that her birth is right for her. Many families feel most safe, comfortable and in control in their own home."

The CMAJ study reviewed five years of birth data in British Columbia, and showed comparable rates of infant death (less than 1 in 1000) in both home and hospital groups, and reduced interventions to the mothers in the home birth group. No maternal deaths occurred.

"Home birth has many advantages for women who chose it," says Weston. "Giving birth at home avoids exposure to potential hospital infections, reduces the risk of interventions and c-sections, and allows a full range of mobility and positions that might not be as accessible or comfortable in the hospital. Birth works better when women can feel open and relaxed, and being in your own bed or bathtub can help with that."

Labouring at home, women can eat or drink what they want, when they want. A home birth allows the mother to have as many or as few support people involved with the birth as she chooses.

- Over 25 percent of Ontario midwifery clients plan home births
- About 2500 babies will be born at home in Ontario this year,
representing approximately 20 percent of midwifery births and
approximately 2 percent of total provincial births
- Besides offering a safe birth experience, home birth can also
contribute to savings for the healthcare system. For example, home
births with a registered midwife have a lower rate of interventions
than hospital births with physicians; home births involve no hospital
stay for labour, delivery or postpartum care; and fewer or no
subsequent trips to the hospital for postpartum issues.
There are close to 500 Registered Midwives in Ontario, serving communities in 72 clinics across the province. Midwives have privileges at 75 Ontario hospitals. Midwives have been regulated by the province since 1994.

A midwife is a registered health care professional who provides primary care to women with low-risk pregnancies. Midwives provide care throughout pregnancy, labour and birth and provide care to both mother and baby during the first six weeks following the birth. The Association of Ontario Midwives is the professional body representing midwives and the practice of midwifery in Ontario.



  1. Robert Dyson, MD Robert Dyson, MD United States says:

    Comparing the complication rate for  home and hospital  births by looking at past  outcomes  has no  validity whatsoever, because one  is comparing apples oranges: the two groups of women are not  comparable. Those with known or perceived risk factors will inevitably choose  hospital births. And those  who develop complications will be moved to the hospital and  give birth  there.

    One can imagine any number of situations in which not being at home would be an added risk:  sudden and massive bleeding; premature separation of the placenta; a baby that doesn't breathe  and needs resuscitation, etc.  Since we know these things happen, and can happen suddenly, it is statistically impossible for  home  births  to be safe  as  hospital births.   Relatively safe,  yes; "as" safe, certainly not.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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