Friday, March 29, 2013

Searcher: Home Birth Risks

I was interested in the possible risks associated with home birth, as home birth has been focused on in the documentary and the article and blog from this week’s readings. I am interested in this topic because in the documentary we saw in class I find quite problematic the selection of interview sources the director decided to include. It seems that the people selected to speak in the film are overwhelmingly in support of home birth (with a large proportion of these directly profiting from them) and the film really does not seem to explore any well-articulated counterarguments. Rather, the people selected to speak in the film seem to be quite willing to make some sloppy arguments. For instance for one of the interviewees (paraphrase) “[when comparing US women to those of other nations with higher rates of midwife utilization] some say that women in the US are on average higher risk. But you can’t blame women.” No of course they should not be blamed, but to wholly disregard a topic such as this is negligent and irresponsible.

I tried to find a few articles about the possible risks associated with home birth. The article I found on Jezebel claims that there are higher rates of perinatal death associated with homebirth when compared against low-risk hospital births, and that a common study sited by advocates to show the safety of home births was actually based on old hospital death rates and when used with rates from the 2000, the mortality rate for home births nears three times as high. However, the author does claim multiple times throughout the article that this is an under researched area (as does, as the author cites, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists). However with regard to homebirths, I think the article has a quite fitting conclusion: 

Ultimately, while home births are undoubtedly empowering for those who have had positive experiences, women who question the safety of a particular birthing option should not be made to feel as though they are weak or ignorant chumps who've been conned by the medical profession. A call for more studies on home births does not equate to doubting the amazing capabilities of the female body. After all, what's more empowering than being completely educated when making a choice?

The article I found in the Huffington Post seems to echo many of the same concerns raised in the aforementioned article. Adding that homebirth presents added risks for first time mothers as the risk of needing to be rushed to the hospital last minute is much higher than for a woman who has had at least one child. The article also notes that the rate of planned homebirths increases with age, however, as age increases so too do risks to the mother and baby.

However, it seems clear from the articles as well as from the information available from a cursory internet search that the existing information is lacking and that the issue needs to be studied further.

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