A new study coming out of the UBC School of Population and Public Health and the Child Family Research Institute is showing that having a baby at home is not only cost effective, but also safe for low-risk births. This is one of many studies that have looked into home birthing through the years, but this study relies a lot on valid data from a specific length of time.
The researchers looked at the planned home births that were attended by a registered midwife in British Columbia between 2001 and 2004. They then compared that to the planned hospital births which were also attended by either midwives or physicians, and all of these women had qualified for a home birth. This means that they had a low-risk pregnancy, which would make it safe for them to have a home birth if they chose. The researchers found that for the first 28 days after delivery, the planned home births saved about $2,338 compared to the midwife attended hospital delivery. When there was a physician-attended birth at the hospital, the at home delivery saved the women about $2,541. Lead author of the study was Patricia Janssen, who is a professor in the School of Population and Public Health at UBC. Janssen said that of course it makes sense when you have a home birth you are not paying the hospital bills which are associated with delivery, and that the cost savings is definitely tied to the place you are giving birth.
The study then looked at the health costs for the baby during the first year, and they found that there was an $810 savings when it came to babies born at home with the midwife compared to at the hospital with a midwife. If there was a physician-attended delivery at the hospital, the cost savings was $1,146. This means there is a positive health outcome for the planned home births that have a registered midwife compared to the hospital births, even if there is not a physician attending the birth. The researchers said that if there were any “hidden” health risks, such as a brain injury diagnosed after birth, then that would be showing up in the health care costs after birth, and that is just not happening. Janssen also has done other similar studies which showed that planned home births resulted in a decrease in interventions and almost the same adverse infant outcomes when compared to the planned hospital births, but again, this was in the women who met the guidelines to have a home birth if they wanted, which means they had a low-risk pregnancy and low-risk delivery. When there is an at-home delivery with a registered midwife, it does save a lot of money in regards to the healthcare system. The researchers wanted to produce more data that shows there is just the same risk of delivery at home that you see in the hospital, which can help women make a better informed decision.
Of course, there have also been studies in the past that have shown that it is riskier for an at-home delivery, so you just have to look at the types of women that were used in each study to determine which is really accurate. At-home delivery is not safe for every pregnancy because some women have high-risk for things going wrong, especially if they had gestational diabetes or other issues that might impact the baby during delivery. There are also some situations where the baby is breech and is backwards, which could result in possible issues with the umbilical cord getting wrapped around their necks and cutting off air supply. It is important to talk to your doctor before you decide on a home birth because some medical situations can end up life-threatening if you are not in the hospital setting, especially if you have a history or family history of difficult births. There are a lot of women who want their first baby delivered in a hospital because they are worried about the potential risk with at home delivery, but then often times they choose to have their next babies delivered at home once they are given the okay by their doctor that it would be safe. When it comes to choosing at home or hospital delivery, you have to speak to your doctor to ensure that you are meeting the criteria that is often setup for these types of deliveries, because the doctor has a job of first doing no harm, which means if you are a high risk pregnancy, the doctor will shut down the at home talk immediately.
You also should make sure you have a registered midwife at your home, because they are the first to know when something is wrong, and they have the medical training to help ensure your at home delivery is as safe as it possibly can be. It is also important that if you do this at home, you are prepared just in case an emergency does happen, so you need to pack your clothes and items just in case you need to quickly get to the hospital, and you need to have a plan in place of who will take you to the hospital, so make sure someone is home besides the midwife when you plan your home delivery. Women need to be more aware of just how important it is to always be planning for the unexpected, especially when it comes to home delivery. While you might want to save money, your first thought should be to make sure you are not putting your newborn child into harms way, and that you know if you need to get to the hospital that you can manage that effectively. You also need to make sure your midwife is registered and has the proper credentials to help you through your delivery, so always ask for certifications and documentation to ensure you are getting someone who knows what they are doing when it comes to home delivery, and never go with just the cheapest option.