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Is a Home Birth Safe?

Is a Home Birth Safe for Your Labor and Delivery?

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The coronavirus pandemic has propelled certain medical practices into the spotlight and has many expecting mothers wondering if a home birth is safe for their health and that of their babies. In many cases, it can be quite appropriate but making this decision requires the consideration of many factors and takes some extra planning.

Why Do Some Women Prefer Being at Home to a Hospital?

For many women a home birth is perfectly safe, and it provides them with a different experience from that of labor in a hospital. This is true even though your health care provider is monitoring your pulse, blood pressure, temperature and your baby’s heart rate periodically instead of continuously. 

Among the reasons some women prefer it include:

  • Wanting to give birth in a familiar, comfortable place with family close by
  • Preferring to avoid hospital care
  • Wanting to go through labor without medical intervention such as labor augmentation, pain medication, fetal heart rate monitoring or labor induction
  • Cultural or religious practices
  • Seeking greater control and freedom over the process as a whole
  • A lack of transportation access
  • Greater affordability

There are, of course, other reasons that many women want to experience a home birth, but those are among the most common.

When is a Home Birth Not Safe?

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, there are some situations when it’s not considered safe to plan for a home birth. Hospitals are encouraged in the following circumstances:

  • You’re expecting multiple births
  • You’ve already given birth by C-section
  • Your baby doesn’t settle into a head-first delivery position

Have a Backup Plan in Mind

It’s also recommended that you have a plan in place to head to a hospital even if it was initially deemed safe for you to have a home birth.  Your health care provider may recommend that you head to the hospital in certain circumstances such as:

  • Your baby shows signs of distress
  • Your labor isn’t progressing in a safe way
  • Your baby presents in a position other than one that would allow a head-first delivery
  • You require pain relief
  • You experience bleeding
  • You experience high blood pressure (hypertension)