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What’s an Ethical Response to Home Birth?

What’s an Ethical Response to Home Birth?
By Paul Burcher, MD, PhD

“I believe we have an ethical obligation at a minimum to accept transports from home with the respect and professional dialogue we afford our colleagues.”

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An observational study from The Netherlands that evaluated more than 500,000 births in homes and in hospitals showed no increase in adverse outcomes of any kind with home birth in low-risk women. So home birth, in ideal conditions where midwives and physicians work together as a team and where transport to hospitals in an emergency is highly efficient, appears as safe as hospital birth. Put another way, the data suggest that if home birth in America is more dangerous than hospital birth, it may be because of contingent factors that can be remedied.

Home birth rates in America have risen significantly in the last few years. I believe this is driven both by a positive desire to give birth at home and by the negative associations that hospital birth has created, including the popular perception that we are doing too many unnecessary cesarean sections. While I agree with Dr Chervenak that we should make hospitals more accommodating to our patients, if we wish to make birth as safe as possible then shunning our home birth colleagues cannot possibly be the way to achieve greater safety for pregnant women and babies.

In contrast to Dr Chervenak’s views, it is my assertion that our professional responsibility must include supporting all of the birth options women have and to make each as safe as possible. The Netherlands has shown that safety comparable to a hospital is achievable. We should strive to replicate their results.

See the entire article HERE.

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