When a woman I know in real life or online tells me they are interested in giving birth at home, I am never entirely sure how to react.
While I am a physician, I'm not an obstetrician or pediatrician or someone who works regularly with childbearing age women. When it comes to the statistics and research about home vs. hospital birth, I know very little. All I can really offer to an expecting mother is anecdotes from my brief experience on L&D. I can share a story about a severe postpartum hemorrhage that might not have made it to the hospital from home, or the newborn with unexpected heart problems whose life was saved only by immediate medical care. Based on that experience, I would never consider giving birth at home or advising anyone else to do it. But anecdotes don't equal evidence-based recommendations.
In contrast, a lot of women having home births have done tons of research on the topic. Something I recently discovered is that some women who are pro-homebirth not only feel that it's safer to give birth at home, but that this is an undisputed fact supported by solid medical evidence.
There are probably women who read and write on this blog who know the evidence back and forth, but I'm not one of those women.... which is why I'm writing this post. I am not entirely sure what to make of women who proclaim that they're giving birth at home because it's safer, then try to convince others to do the same. Yet I feel like as a physician, I have to speak out on behalf of my profession.
The readers of this blog are generally medical professionals of one kind of another, or at least people who likely respect physicians. So I ask this specific community for the sake of my own (and the readers') curiosity and knowledge: what are your thoughts on home vs. hospital births?