Home births are becoming increasingly popular among women expected to have low-risk pregnancies. Some women are choosing this more intimate location because there is a reduced risk of infection and more attention given to mother and child. Others feel safer having their babies in a hospital in case there is an emergency that midwives may be unable to handle.
— Lea Thali, Nia Creator
If a woman finds a well-trained midwife, whom she trusts, has a viable back-up plan, lives close to a hospital, and feels comfortable having her baby in the home, I think having a home birth may be the better option for both mother and child. With fewer interventions, postpartum infection risks are reduced. The evidence points to the benefits of home birth, with the exception of infant mortality rates. However, the findings for infant mortality rates are greatly disputed, and without more studies, I don't think that women should opt for hospital births based on the current findings.
If planned properly and with no need for surgery, home births remain the best option as they are correlated with healthy characteristics for the baby, such as lower occurrences of premature births and low birthweight. Also, a home birth can be cheaper than a hospital birth, while allowing the child to get better and more individual care. Of course, while not advisable for all, home births should be strongly considered by individuals who have access to trained personnel (nurse-midwives).
Bacterial communities will vary during postnatal development due to the difference in environmental exposure. The downside is this - it's very hard to accurately observe bacterial effect on immunity outside of an adult human. I do know that the method of birth makes a significant difference but environmental factors are much more complex!
There doesn't seem to be a clear winner for which is better for low-risk births. While there are real risks with being at a hospital — infection and unnecessary intervention being the greatest concerns — some complications can only be handled at a hospital.
The research seems to suggest that the overall outcome may make the home a more preferable setting and a better bet, however, the decision is a close enough call that it's best informed by specific circumstances (how close a hospital is to home) and personal comfort levels.
Certainly, Americans should give home birthing the serious look that it rightfully receives in other parts of the world, and more research should be conducted to give us a clearer picture on where it's best to give birth.
With thought and planning, home births seem like the best option to discuss with a doctor for low-risk pregnancies. The setting is intimate and familiar, and the risks for infection and/or neonatal death significantly lower. If the insurance will cover a home birth, it seems the most comfortable and practical. However, should any risk be involved (even low-to-medium risk) pregnancies, I think a hospital is the best option is to be where urgent care is possible -- at the very least for the peace of mind for the mother/family.
The decision for a home birth should be entirely up to the mother and family. In my opinion, the pros and cons of home births are equal to one another. While home births provide a more specified care to the mother and have lower rates of intervention and spread of diseases, there is a sense of security at a hospital. That's not to say that a highly trained midwife isn't as reputable as a doctor at a hospital; they are both equally as qualified to deliver a baby.
A home birth is definitely a realistic option for a mother facing little or no risk, a trained midwife, a pregnancy with a low level of complications and a hospital close to the home. For even slightly more risky pregnancies, however, I wouldn't feel comfortable not being in a hospital with the resources to intervene. The stakes are too high and it is always better to be safe than sorry.
While I can respect people's feelings regarding the risk of infection at a hospital, I believe that hospitals are the overall safer choice. Even if you have a low risk pregnancy, nobody can predict what happens during delivery. I believe that it's important to have an OB/GYN who you trust and who you have had candid discussions regarding your birth plan, but if complications arise, they are unexpected and often need to be dealt with immediately. Being in a hospital with trained doctors, staff, and many medical options available at a moment's notice, I think that being in a hospital is overall the safer choice.
Even in low-risk pregnancies, once a woman goes into labor many complications can still arise that might require emergency or immediate medical attention. Based on the research, I don't think the potential benefits of an intimate home birth outweigh the benefits of having an abundance of doctors and emergency care staff immediately available at a hospital.
Although home births can be a viable option, I personally believe hospital births are more practical in case there is an emergency. In a hospital, if something is to go wrong, the baby can be placed in immediate care.