Home birth: Know the pros and cons
Wondering if a planned home birth is right for you? Get the facts about the possible risks and how to prepare for the big day.By Mayo Clinic Staff
If you're considering a planned home birth, you probably have questions. Is it safe? Will you need a midwife or doula? How do you create a backup plan? Find out what's involved and how to decide if this birthing method is right for you.
What happens during a planned home birth?
If you're thinking about a planned home birth, make sure that you understand the potential risks and benefits. A planned home birth might be associated with fewer medical interventions, but in general, home births are associated with an increased risk of obstetric emergencies when compared with delivery in a medical facility.
Planned home births are associated with an increased risk of:
- Needing labor induction
- A delivery requiring the use of forceps or vacuum extraction
- Severe bleeding requiring a blood transfusion
- Severe vaginal lacerations or tears
There are several factors that might reduce the risks of these complications, including having:
- Assistance from a certified nurse-midwife
- Access to a practicing obstetric doctor
- A plan for emergency transport to the nearest hospital
If you deliver at home, labor management might differ from what you would experience in a hospital setting. During labor at home, your health care provider will periodically — rather than continuously — monitor your temperature, pulse, blood pressure and your baby's heart rate. A health care provider will examine your newborn and determine whether a hospital transfer is needed.
Why do women choose planned home births?
You might choose a planned home birth for many reasons, including:
- A desire to give birth without medical intervention, such as pain medication, labor augmentation, labor induction or fetal heart rate monitoring
- A desire to give birth in a comfortable, familiar place surrounded by family
- Dissatisfaction with hospital care
- A desire for freedom and control in the birthing process
- Cultural or religious concerns
- A lack of access to transportation
- Lower cost
Are there situations when a planned home birth isn't recommended?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists cautions against a planned home birth if:
July 07, 2017
- You are pregnant with multiples
- Your baby doesn't settle into a position that allows for a headfirst delivery
- You've previously had a C-section
See more In-depth
- Planned home birth. American Academy of Pediatrics Policy. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/collection. Accessed May 3, 2017.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Obstetric Practice. Committee Opinion No. 697: Planned home birth. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2017;129:117.
- Declercq E. Planned home birth. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 3, 2017.
- Lothian JA. Preparation for labor and childbirth. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 3, 2017.
- Stuebe A, et al. Continuous labor support by a doula. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 3, 2017.