Risk and Benefits of Giving Birth At Home

Giving Birth at Home? Know the Possible Risks & Benefits of a Midwife-Assisted Planned Home Birth

The number of out-of-hospital births has been rising steadily, especially over the last 20 years. In British Columbia, the number of home births has been on the rise. Even though giving birth at home can be performed by a certified midwife or a trained physician, it still begs the question – how safe is it? Well, as our birth injuries lawyer in Halifax puts it, childbirth per se is an inherently risky process.

How Safe are Home Births?

According to a recent study in the US that analyzed the rates of neonatal mortality in births performed by registered nurse-midwives, home deliveries had considerably higher rates of neonatal mortality, especially for mothers who had a low-risk profile. Unlike home, hospital deliveries are better equipped and quite successful in offering immediate and life-saving intervention for the mother and the unborn baby.

Birth statistics in Canada suggest that hospitals are safer, particularly when unexpected complications arise during labor. Another study in 2018 comparing hospital and home births, found that non-hospital deliveries were almost 5 times more likely to result in fetal death. However, those numbers do not distinguish between low-risk and high-risk pregnancies.

According to the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC), midwife-attended home deliveries for low-risk pregnancies are considered as safe as hospital deliveries. SOGC guidelines are in support of planned home deliveries, provided that the delivery is anticipated to be uncomplicated and the woman is fully aware of all risks and benefits.

Since childbirth is naturally a risky process, obstetrical procedures convey the highest rates of medical insurance premiums in Canada. Our medical malpractice lawyer Halifax understands very well that no childbirth is safe. Any birth can result in catastrophic and life-changing delivery injuries to the newborn baby. This can especially result in cerebral palsy, brain disorder, or other types of brain injuries.

Important Factors to Consider to Ensure the Safety of a Planned Home Birth

Are you planning to give birth at home? Well, here are some important factors you must consider to ensure the safety of planned home birth:

  1. A midwife must determine whether the pregnancy poses any risk to the mother and the unborn baby. She should also be in a position to tell whether the mother is an appropriate candidate for a planned home birth or not. The mother may develop some conditions during the early stages – disqualifying the midwife from attending a home birth. During such cases, the midwife must transfer the care of the mother to a physician and immediate transport to the hospital arranged.
  2. A midwife has to write a well-detailed plan for a home birth. The midwife should also assess the home environment and determine if it’s suitable for home birth and write it in the plan. The necessary equipment and supplies for home birth should be provided by the midwife, including a comprehensive transport plan to the hospital in case of an emergency.
  3. A midwife must obtain the woman’s informed consent, determine the risk profile of the pregnancy, and update her regarding any unanticipated problems that may arise at any stage of the pregnancy and during labor.

The Bottom Line

According to CMBA guidelines, giving birth at home is considered a relatively safe option for certain low-risk pregnancies. The midwife should also be ready to transfer the care of the mother to a physician when requested by the mother to do so. Our medical malpractice lawyer in Halifax will help you with any questions or concerns you may have about your home birth experience.

We work in collaboration with a team of highly-trained lawyers, midwives, nurses, and physicians. Call us today for a free consultation. We will listen to your concerns and review your medical care.



Back to News & Insights