Avoid hospitals for better birthing?

A growing number of women in the US are choosing to give birth outside of hospital walls. The trend, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), saw twice as many women opting for midwife assisted home births or birthing center deliveries in 2012 as in 2004.

Though the total number is still small-hovering around 2 percent of total births-experts believe the out-of-hospital birthing trend will have a significant impact on health costs, clinician training and resource allocation.

US mothers chose this option responsibly, the statistics show, reserving out-of-hospital birthing for low-risk, healthy pregnancies with minimal complications. Compared to those choosing hospital birth, these moms enjoyed a significantly smaller proportion of preterm or low-birthweight deliveries.

The NCHS doesn’t hazard any opinions about the reasons behind this trend. We can guess that some mothers, seeing birth as a natural event, prefer a natural environment. And for some, it may just be good, intuitive, common sense.

New guidelines from Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) encourages women with low-risk pregnancies to stay out of the hospital for their deliveries. NHS statistics show that midwife-led care is safer than hospital care for such pregnancies as women are less likely to acquire infections or be subjected to medical interventions such as episiotomies, caesareans and forceps use. In the view of the NHS, at least 45 percent of births would benefit from being conducted under midwife direction.

Currently, 90 percent of British babies are delivered in hospital, under the supervision of an obstetrician. The NHS guidelines recommend that women be provided four options for giving birth: hospital care, midwifery units in hospitals, midwifery units based in the community and at home.

Even though the US trend toward out-of-hospital births is strong, it will clearly take some time for it to approach British levels. Along with cultural resistance, we can expect to see strong-and well-funded-resistance among the ranks of OB/GYNs.

Skip to content