With advances in medical technology, childbirth can now take place both at home and in a hospital setting. However, a recent article published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology states that babies who were born outside hospitals have a higher mortality when compared with those were born within a hospital setting. The analysis was based on federal statistics and assessed over 14 million births in total.
Of these 14 million, 130,000 births were non-hospital deliveries. The analysis was conducted based on data collected between 2006 and 2009. Amongst the criteria used for analysis, early death i.e. that within seven days of birth, and neonatal death i.e. death within 28 days of birth, was taken into account in full term babies who did not have any congenital abnormalities. The results were rather surprising and despite every permutation and combination of the available data, it appeared that babies were born in a non-hospital setting had a higher rate of death.
In addition to this revealing finding, it was also found that babies who are delivered by midwives within a home setting had four times the death rate when compared to babies delivered by midwives based in hospital. This rate was especially high in primiparous women i.e. those giving birth to their first child.
Similarly, babies delivered in birthing centres by midwives were twice as likely to die when compared to those delivered by midwives in hospitals. Furthermore, births attended by doctors tended to have a higher mortality primarily because the requirement of a physician is usually when there is some form of complication during childbirth.
It is very likely that these findings underestimate the actual death rate of babies that are delivered outside hospitals as any complicated child births are usually transferred to hospital for delivery. If following delivery the baby died, it was counted as a hospital death and not one due to attempted delivery of the baby at home.
Patient experiences also clearly state dissatisfaction regarding childbirth at home. The atmosphere at hospital and the reassurance that a physician and trained midwife and staff nurse are available to look after them and ensure the safe delivery of the baby is extremely important to the patient. If the hospital environment is tailor-made to mimic the environment at home, patients may find it a lot more comfortable to undergo the child birthing process. In addition, their capability to manage any complications both physically and emotionally will be a lot better especially as they are surrounded by trained professionals.
In essence, it is important to try and make hospitals feel like a home to the patient rather than vice versa.
OBGYN Reston, VA / Virginia Obstetrics and Gynecology