Health Watch: Home Births or Hospital?

TAMPA, Fla. (KFSN) -- It's a joy like no other ... the birth of a new baby! And usually, it all unfolds in a hospital's maternity department. But a growing number of women are going back to basics and staying at home. Ivanhoe tells us why women like it and doctors don't.

Sarah Rankin's family is about to get a little bigger. And just like first child Charlotte, they want the baby to come into the world right here, in their home.

"You're able to control the vibe of your birth. So, she was born in a dark room with silence, instead of beeping and screaming and people rushing around. It was just so serene," shared Sarah.

But it's still rare. Less than one percent of the four million births in the U.S. last year happened at home. Jill Hechtman, MD, FACOG, Medical Director, Tampa Obstetrics says it's because it's too risky. One study found 23 to 37 percent of women who tried to give birth at home wound up being rushed to the hospital.

"I'm not a big proponent of home birth because I've seen the bad things that can happen and I know there's only minutes when they do happen," stated Dr. Hechtman.

Dr. Hechtman says the mortality rate for home birth babies is roughly twice as high as hospital births. Thirteen fatalities versus six for every ten thousand in a hospital.

"We are licensed and regulated by the state," explained Charlie Rae Young, Licensed Midwife.

She says safety contingencies are in place if there's a complication.

"It's not home birth at all costs," continued Young.

Dr. Hechtman still isn't convinced.

"I would rather embrace the patients that would consider home births and talk to them and provide them what they want in a hospital setting," said Dr. Hechtman.

But for Sarah, there is no doubt about where she will welcome baby number two.

Doctors and midwives do agree on one thing and that is that some women are better candidates for home deliveries than others. For example, those without any previous health problems or c-sections and usually women only having one baby and not twins or triplets. Montana, Vermont and Wyoming are among the top states for home births, and some counties in Florida are amongst the highest in the nation with seven percent of women choosing home birth compared to the national average of only one percent.
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