What does the evidence say about
midwifery care and out-of-hospital birth in North America?

Since the dawn of time, midwives have helped other women during the childbearing process. Today in many developed countries, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Sweden to name a few, the midwife remains the safe guardian of birth. In fact, in these countries, where midwives attend more than 70% of all births, statistics reveal the best outcomes for moms and babies. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared in 1990 that birth was safest, when utilizing midwifery care for pregnancy and childbirth.

In the United States, where midwives attend only 8-10% of births, we rank sorely low in neonatal and perinatal mortality compared to those countries where midwives are the primary caregivers for childbearing women.

A study published in the June 18, 2005 edition of the British Medical Journal found that for low-risk women in the United States, planned home births are as safe as hospital births, and accomplished with much less medical intervention, compared with low-risk hospital births. According to the British Medical Journal press release, they found:

 

  • Planned home births “had a low mortality rate during labor and delivery, similar to [rates] found in most studies of  low-risk hospital births in
    North America.”

  • “Rates of medical intervention, such as epidural, forceps and  caesarean section, were lower for planned home births than for low-risk hospital births.”

  • “A high degree of safety and maternal satisfaction were reported."

  • "Over 87% of mothers and babies did not require transfer to hospital care."