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Are Hospitals the Safest Choice for Your Birth?

When expecting a child, parents are faced with a variety of options. They want to make decisions that are in the best interest of the baby and their family. Some of the most important choices involve medical treatments and the birthing process. Parents may take a considerable amount of time to research and choose the right physician. After all, this is the person who cares for the mother and fetus during pregnancy, and ensures that the baby is brought into the world safely. A growing number of parents choose a different route, opting for a midwife instead of a doctor and deciding to have a home birth.

A Continuing Debate

A recent editorial in Time magazine discusses the choice between hospitals and home births, examining which option offers the most safety for mother and child. OB GYN Amy Tuteur examines two articles that advocate home births over hospital births, due to their safety and cost effectiveness. In her critique, Tuteur points out two major issues:

The variations of midwife training in the United States- In the United Kingdom, all midwives are certified through a centralized training program. The certification process virtually ensures that they are all adequately educated and trained. In the United States, there are two types of trained midwives. Certified Nurse Midwives (CNM) are well educated and must pass extensive training courses. Certified Professional Midwives (CPM) generally receive their credentials from a correspondence course. According to the article, the training received by these midwives is significantly inferior to the training required for midwives in all other industrialized nations.

The death rate among American midwives administering home births is between three and nine times higher than similar births taking place in a hospital environment. For example:
A report by Midwives Alliance of America reportedly demonstrated a 450% increase in the risk of perinatal death with home births.
Anoxic brain injuries reportedly occur at a rate 18 time higher than similar hospital births.

Comparing the Costs

Though home births are less expensive, the costs add up significantly when emergency situations arise. Transportation to a hospital, emergency medical treatment and follow-up care all result in added expenses. This is particularly concerning when a reported 40% of first-time mothers require emergency services in a hospital during or after a home birth.

In the article, Tuteur equates hospitals to the seat belt in an automobile. “Most of the time you won’t be in a car accident so you don’t need them; but when you need them, they save lives… When it comes to home births, each mother must decide whether she is willing to tolerate the risk to her baby of dying [in a] home birth, a risk that is higher than the risk of that baby dying in a car accident.”

For mothers who do choose a home birth, a resulting injury can prove devastating, physically, mentally and financially. If you or your newborn was injured during a home birth, contact the experienced birth injury attorneys of Levin & Perconti today at (877) 374-1417 for a free consultation.

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