British Medical Journal Quotes Regarding Homebirth

The following quotations are taken from the November 23, 1996 issue of the British Medical Journal. This issue contained four research papers and an editorial that were basically positive toward homebirth. The articles can be found on the World Wide Web at

"After background variables were controlled for, the perinatal outcome for primiparous women with low risk pregnancies was similar for those who planned home births and those who planned hospital births. For mutiparous women with low risk pregnancies, the perinatal outcome of planned home birth was significantly better than that of planned hospital birth, whether or not background was controlled for." ("Outcome of Planned Home and Planned Hospital Births in Low Risk Pregnancies: Prospective Study in Midwifery Practices in the Netherlands", p. 4)

"Our research has shown that, for women with low risk pregnancies in the Netherlands, choosing to give birth at home is a safe choice with an outcome that is at least as good as that of planned hospital birth." (Ibid. p.13)

"It is important, therefore, that the home birth option remains available, but especially that women at low risk are really given a free choice." (Ibid.)

"During delivery the home birth group needed significantly less medication and fewer interventions whereas no differences were found in durations of labour, occurrence of severe perineal lesions, and maternal blood loss." ("Home Versus Hospital Deliveries: Follow Up Study of Matched Pairs for Procedures and Outcome", p. 1)

"The mean Apgar score at one minute was the same in both groups [i.e., planned home deliver and planned hospital delivery], but at five and 10 minutes babies in the planned home delivery group had higher scores." (Ibid. p. 8)

"Detailed examination by a neutral paediatrician between the 2nd and 6th days of life showed no differences between home and hospital born infants." (Ibid.)

"There was no evidence that the more liberal use of episiotomy in hospitals prevented severe perineal lesions." (Ibid. p. 9)

"The lower rate of interventions in home births meant a lower risk of subsequent complications for the mother." (Ibid.)

"Conclusion: In a setting in which pregnant women can choose the place of delivery and attention at home is guaranteed, a referral system is available and adequate, and hospitals respect the patient's original decision when she arrives there, home delivery has advantages over hospital delivery: home delivery results in fewer interventions and more comfort for the mother." (Ibid. p. 10)

"Most indicators suggest that home delivery does not pose a higher risk than hospital delivery and that it reduces some of the additional risks of interventions." (Ibid.)

"Results: The estimated perinatal mortality during 1981-94 among women booked for a home birth was 14 deaths in 2,888 births. This was less than half that among all women in the region." ("Collaborative Survey of Perinatal Loss in Planned and Unplanned Home Births" p. 2)

"Conclusions: The perinatal hazard associated with planned home birth in the few women who exercised this option (<1%) was low and mostly unavoidable." (Ibid.)

"All we can say with certainty is that, of the 1890 women who were estimated to have booked for home delivery in this region in the last 10 years of the study period, only five lost a baby and intrapartum events were implicated in only one of those deaths." (Ibid. p. 9)

"Perinatal mortality in the few (<1%) pregnancies in which home birth had been planned was less than half the average for all births, and few of these deaths were associated with substandard care." (p. 10)

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