Is Birth Outside a Hospital Safe?

Contrary to what you may think, giving birth outside of a hospital can be very safe. In fact, for most pregnant women, a planned home or birth center birth with a trained midwife in attendance is actually safer than a planned hospital birth. Study after study has proven this to be true. Because midwives view pregnancy and birth as normal, natural functions of the female body, and trust that birth works best when left alone, most risks can be avoided by not using the interventions that can cause most complications.

The CPM 2000 Home Birth Study
The largest study of home births attended by Certified Professional Midwives, as published in the British Medical Journal, has found that home birth is safe for low risk women and involves far fewer interventions than similar births in hospitals. This prospective study included all home births attended by Certified Professional Midwives across the United States and Canada in the year 2000.

Safe & Healthy Outcomes

  • Results are consistent with most studies of planned home births and low risk hospital births
  • Zero maternal deaths
  • Intrapartum and neonatal mortality: 2.0 per 1000 intended home births (only 1.7 per 1000 intended home births when planned breech and twin births are excluded)
  • Immediate neonatal concerns resulted in just 2.4% being placed in neonatal intensive care.
  • At six weeks well over 90% of mothers were still breastfeeding their babies
  • Much lower rates of intervention for intended home births compared to low risk hospital births
Planned home birth Hospital birth
Induction of labor (only with oxytocin or prostaglandins) 2.1% 21.0%
Stimulation of labor (only with oxytocin) 2.7% 18.9%
Electronic fetal monitoring 9.6% 84.3%
Episiotomy 2.1% 33.0%
Vacuum Extraction 0.6% 5.5%
Cesarean Section 3.7% 19.0%

Satisfied Mothers

  • Only 1.7% of the mothers said they would choose a different type of caregiver for a future pregnancy.

Few Transfers to Hospital Care

  • Only 12.1% transferred to hospital intrapartum or postpartum
  • Five out of six transfers were before delivery, most for failure to progress, pain relief or exhaustion
  • Midwife considered transfer urgent in only 3.4% of intended home births

High Credibility

  • Included all home births involving Certified Professional Midwives in the year 2000
  • 5,418 women in the U.S. and Canada who intended to give birth at home as of the start of labor
  • Prospective – every planned home birth was registered in the study prior to labor and delivery