I just read the results of a study comparing the outcomes of planned home births and hospital births published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). For women like myself who choose to give birth at home, the study is reassuring, and really just a reaffirmation of what we already know – that homebirths are safe. But hopefully this study will help to bring homebirth into the 21st century.
Ideally I’d like to see homebirth midwifery legalized and regulated in every state (there are currently 12 states where it is illegal to practice as a home birth midwife). I’d also like to see it become a recognized covered expense on any health insurance policy that covers maternity (which includes all group policies, but very few individual policies). In Colorado, home birth midwifery is legal and regulated, but midwives still have to jump through a lot of hoops to get paid on the rare occasions when their clients’ health insurance policies cover home birth expenses.
I know that physicians tend to balk at the idea of home births. And since the only home births they come in contact with are the ones that go wrong and require a transport to the hospital, I guess it’s reasonable that they would feel this way. Hopefully this study will help them to recognize home births as a safe alternative for low risk pregnancies. Of course there is a bit of a turf war involved in the stance on home birth taken by groups like ACOG and the AMA. And as far as that goes, studies that show the safety of home births aren’t likely to have much impact.