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Keywords:

  • birth place;
  • home childbirth;
  • midwife;
  • midwifery;
  • perinatal outcome;
  • pregnancy outcomes

Introduction

Between 2004 and 2010, the number of home births in the United States rose by 41%, increasing the need for accurate assessment of the safety of planned home birth. This study examines outcomes of planned home births in the United States between 2004 and 2009.

Methods

We calculated descriptive statistics for maternal demographics, antenatal risk profiles, procedures, and outcomes of planned home births in the Midwives Alliance of North American Statistics Project (MANA Stats) 2.0 data registry. Data were analyzed according to intended and actual place of birth.

Results

Among 16,924 women who planned home births at the onset of labor, 89.1% gave birth at home. The majority of intrapartum transfers were for failure to progress, and only 4.5% of the total sample required oxytocin augmentation and/or epidural analgesia. The rates of spontaneous vaginal birth, assisted vaginal birth, and cesarean were 93.6%, 1.2%, and 5.2%, respectively. Of the 1054 women who attempted a vaginal birth after cesarean, 87% were successful. Low Apgar scores (< 7) occurred in 1.5% of newborns. Postpartum maternal (1.5%) and neonatal (0.9%) transfers were infrequent. The majority (86%) of newborns were exclusively breastfeeding at 6 weeks of age. Excluding lethal anomalies, the intrapartum, early neonatal, and late neonatal mortality rates were 1.30, 0.41, and 0.35 per 1000, respectively.

Discussion

For this large cohort of women who planned midwife-led home births in the United States, outcomes are congruent with the best available data from population-based, observational studies that evaluated outcomes by intended place of birth and perinatal risk factors. Low-risk women in this cohort experienced high rates of physiologic birth and low rates of intervention without an increase in adverse outcomes.