One of the best parts of living in the United States is the ability to have the freedom of choice – including the choice to have your baby at home instead of at a healthcare facility.
The National Center for Health Statistics reports that while still a relatively rare occurrence, home births rose 29 percent in the five years ending 2009.
In 2011, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued a statement saying it “Respects the right of a woman to make a medically informed decision about delivery,” though it still views a hospital as the safest place to have a child.
In response to the rise in home births and the statement from ACOG, the American Academy of Pediatrics released guidelines in May 2013 for the care of infants born at home:
“We felt that it needed to be stated that no matter where a baby is born, the care needs to adhere to the same standards,” said the guidelines’ lead author Kristi Waterberg, MD, a professor of pediatrics and a neonatologist at the University of New Mexico. “We concur with ACOG that hospitals and birthing centers appear to be the safest settings for birth in the US, but respect the right of women to make their own decisions about delivery. One thing we feel very strongly about is that there needs to be one person present at the birth whose primary responsibility is care of the baby. While it’s uncommon for both the mom and the baby to get into trouble, it does happen.”
As a physician who takes care of infants, my preference has always been to have infants delivered at the hospital because of the accessibility of all the tools we have as medical providers in cases where babies are born with emergent issues. It is great that there are new guidelines attempting to make home births safer.