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Examining the Safety of Home Births

The Daily Herald published an interesting story this week examining the dangers and risks (or lack of risks) of home births. The Chicago birth injury attorneys at our firm appreciate that for a wide range of reasons, many local residents chose to deliver their child outside of the traditional hospital. Of course it is helpful for those families to understand exactly what these births are like and if they come with risks that should be considered.

The article explains how home births are obviously growing in popularity, which expectedly comes with a rise in the number of tragedies that occur. Our birth injury lawyers have frequently shared information on some of the more high-profile stories of home births gone awry.

The story highlights one doctor who is a fierce critic of home births. The doctor argues that “even the studies that claim to show that homebirth is as safe as hospital birth actually show the opposite.” Yet the doctor has come under criticism for the aggressive argument against home births. Some are pushing back.

Many note that scientific analysis of home birth risks versus hospital risks are hard to parse through. There may never be a “gold standard” controlled trial, because to do so would require tens of thousands of home births used as part of the study. That is likely impossible, because there are only about 30,000 planned births nationwide annually anyway.

To be sure some medical care providers are outspokenly against at-home births. Many vehemently argue that hospitals are obviously the safest place for a birth. Yet supporters argue that medical pushback is part of the problem, because midwives are not integrated into the hospital system in the United States as they are in other parts of the world.

Those advocating home births further suggest that it is important not to take some tragedies as proof positive of risks for all home births. Obviously tragedies happen, but the underlying analysis about the safety (or lack of safety) of this delivery method shouldn’t be tarred by single examples. Of course, similar example of birthing injuries and errors could be pulled out of hospital settings. Systematic, controlled data is needed to make broad pronouncements about the merit of home births.

In addition, some argue that risk of complications are higher in a hospitals, which is a hidden risk. The author writes that “we can look at data showing our risk of infection skyrockets the second we step into a hospital.” That should be factored into the decision.

Each Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at our firm understands that debate about the merit of home births are unlikely to end anytime soon. At the end of the day families are going to make the choice that they feel is right for them. No matter what, however, we believe firmly that those families deserve to receive reasonable care by doctors, nurses, midwives, and others involved in the process. When that care is not provided and injury results, then an Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit might be appropriate to ensure accountability and redress.

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