Helping families through birth
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Home birth is giving birth in your place of residence.
Home birth can be planned (87% of U.S. home births) or unplanned (13%).
It can be attended by a midwife (62% of U.S. home births), a physician (5%), or others, such as family members or emergency medical technicians (33%) (MacDorman et al., 2012).
A birth center is a health care facility where midwives provide complete maternal and infant care according to midwifery and wellness model of care which focuses on prevention, safety, sensitivity, appropriate medical intervention and cost-effectiveness.
While most birth centers are freestanding some are attached to hospitals allowing quick transition. Midwives have access to similar equipment as those attending home birth and take similar precautions to protect mothers and babies.
Birth centers are tailored to provide families with a comfortable birth setting and encourage a woman’s right to make informed choices about her and her baby’s health care.
Read more about the differences between giving birth in a birth center compared to at home here.
The midwifery model of care approaches pregnancy and birth as normal life events.
Midwives emphasize physical, psychological, and social well-being for the mother and baby.
They often provide more personalized care, education and counseling.
Midwives also provide prenatal care, hands-on assistance during labor and delivery, and postpartum support.
The World Health Organization states that “83% of all maternal deaths, stillbirths and newborn deaths could be averted with the full package of midwifery care.”
Research shows that home birth is a safe option for mothers with “low-risk pregnancies.”
Parents who choose a home birth must engage in a much higher level of preparation, responsibility, and involvement in the birth.
Women who choose a home birth must also be willing to labor without an epidural, although it is possible to transfer to the hospital.
For more information about the safety of home birth, click here.
Families choose to give birth at home for a variety of reasons including a desire for a natural birth, to avoid unnecessary interventions and to have more control over decisions related to their birth.
Other reasons families choose home birth include:
- Belief that home birth is safer than the hospital
- Previous negative or traumatic hospital birth experience
- Dislike of hospitals, doctors, or medically managed birth
- Desire for privacy and to avoid strangers
- Trust in birth as a normal, healthy process
- Lack of separation from baby, easier breastfeeding initiation
- Preference for midwives as caregivers
- Comfortable atmosphere
- Family involvement during the birth (children can be present)
- History of fast (precipitous) labor where it is difficult to get to the hospital in time mind during labor and transfer to the hospital for an epidural.
Midwives can perform a variety of interventions and provide medical treatment depending on their training and licensing. In general, home birth midwives can do the following:
- Intermittently monitor baby’s heart rate with a handheld Doppler and/or fetoscope
- Monitor the woman’s progress of labor
- Perform cervical exams as requested by the mother
- Provide physical and emotional support during labor
- Perform a newborn exam
- Suture any tears after birth
- Recognize complications and transfer a patient to the hospital (most of the time complications are recognized and women are transferred before the situation becomes an emergency)
- Administer oxygen and emergency medications
- Neonatal resuscitation
- Start IV’s and administer IV fluids (some midwives)
This list of interventions comes from evidencebasedbirth.com
While not all health insurance plans cover the complete cost of midwifery and home birth care, some insurance companies will cover births attended by midwives or some part of the cost.
For those insurers that do cover at-home births, the coverage varies greatly. Factors that could impact whether your home birth is covered by your insurance include your location, your health plan and your midwives certifications.
Some midwives also partner with medical billing professionals who can help you file your insurance claim after the “superbill” is generated.
Expectant families should keep in mind that there’s always a chance they may need to transfer to the hospital (should there be any medical indication or individual desire), which could lead to more medical bills.
There are different types of midwives and most provide unique care based on your personal preferences.
A certified nurse midwife (CNM) has a nursing degree plus at least a master’s in midwifery, and is certified by the American College of Nurse Midwives.
The majority of home births in the U.S. are attended by direct-entry midwives who are directly trained in midwifery and did not go through a nursing training program.
A common type of direct-entry midwife in the U.S. is a certified professional midwife (CPM) who is educated through class and clinical experience. The CPM certification is offered by the North American Registry of Midwives.
Are you interested in midwifery services? We can connect you with a midwife in your area! Learn More.
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