Considering a Home Birth? Here’s What You Need to Know

May 7, 2013  |  
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Though home births make up less than 1 percent of annual births in the United States, more families are choosing to welcome their children this way. The rise of home births has led the American Academy of Pediatrics to release guidelines to keep babies and mothers safe. With the right care, home births can be a safe, rewarding experience for mom and baby but without the proper support, the risks of neonatal seizures and other complications can be high. Recently, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a statement saying, “although the Committee on Obstetric Practice believes that hospitals and birthing centers are the safest setting for birth.”

In order to eligible for a home birth, mothers must meet the following criteria:

• Absence of preexisting maternal disease
• Absence of significant disease occurring during the pregnancy
• A singleton fetus estimated to be appropriate for gestational age
• A cephalic presentation
• A gestation of 37 to <41 completed weeks of pregnancy
• Labor that is spontaneous or induced as an outpatient
• A mother who has not been referred from another hospital

Moms who’ve delivered children via C-section are ineligible for home birth.

If you do decide to give birth at home, make sure you’re within 20 minutes of a hospital. Doctors want mothers-to-be to understand that even with the help of a licensed midwife, they need to be able get to the hospital quickly in the event of complications. There should be at least two people present at the birth; one whose primary purpose is caring for the newborn and one person whose able to fully resuscitate the baby if necessary.

But most important is newborn care in the hours after birth. Moms should ensure newborns get the same rigorous screening they would in the hospital, including hearing tests, glucose tests, and a dose of vitamin K.

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