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Home versus hospital birth

  • Review
  • Intervention

Authors


Abstract

Background

A meta-analysis of observational studies have suggested that planned home birth may be safe and with less interventions than planned hospital birth.

Objectives

The objective of this review was to assess the effects of planned home birth compared to hospital birth on the rates of interventions, complications and morbidity as determined in randomized trials.

Search methods

We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (April 2006).

Selection criteria

Controlled trials comparing planned hospital birth to planned home birth in selected women, assisted by an experienced home birth practitioner, and backed up by a modern hospital system in case transfer should be necessary.

Data collection and analysis

Trial quality was assessed and data were extracted by one review author and checked by the other author. Study authors were contacted for additional information.

Main results

One study involving 11 women was included. The trial was of reasonable quality, but was too small to be able to draw conclusions.

Authors' conclusions

There is no strong evidence to favour either planned hospital birth or planned home birth for low-risk pregnant women.

Plain language summary

Home versus hospital birth

No strong evidence about the benefits and safety of planned home birth compared to planned hospital birth for low-risk pregnant women.

In some countries almost all births happen in hospital, whereas in other countries home birth is considered the first choice for healthy and otherwise low-risk women. The change to planned hospital birth for low-risk pregnant women in many countries during this century was not supported by good evidence. Planned hospital birth may even increase unnecessary interventions and complications without any benefit for low-risk women. The review found only one small trial, which provided no strong evidence to favour either planned hospital birth or planned home birth for low-risk pregnant women.

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