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New and largest study finds home birth safe for most women

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On January 30, 2014, the largest-yet study[1] examining planned midwife-attended home births in the U.S. affirmed the consensus of medical literature that home birth attended by a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM) it is a safe option for most women. In this study, published in the Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, Mothers giving birth with CPMs had outcomes comparable to women giving birth in the hospital, but with far fewer costly and unnecessary interventions. CPMs are the only U.S. midwives required to have clinical training in out-of-hospital birth as a condition of national certification.

"As this study confirms, increasing numbers of families in the U.S., whether because of religious, cultural, financial, or personal reasons, are seeking a safe and affordable alternative to standard obstetrical care and rigid hospital policies and practices," said Katherine Prown, PhD, Campaign Manager for The Big Push for Midwives. "But this sharp increase in out-of-hospital births also underscores the urgent need to make sure that midwives in every state who are attending births in private homes and freestanding birth centers have met the educational and training standards as CPMs to qualify them experts in out-of-hospital maternity care."

"While this study gives families one more tool for making informed decisions about the benefits and potential risks of home birth for their particular circumstances, it also reminds us that lawmakers, hospitals, and the medical establishment need to do a better job of fostering collaboration across birth settings to ensure that out-of-hospital midwives and all of the families they serve are fully integrated into the healthcare system," said Susan M. Jenkins, Legal Counsel for The Big Push for Midwives Campaign. Currently just more than half the states authorize legal practice for CPMs.

There is an effort in Maryland to decriminalize Certified Professional Midwives, who currently can be tried on felony charges for assisting a birth.

Ref 1: Cheyney, M., Bovbjerg, M., Everson, C., Gordon, W., Hannibal, D., and Vedam, S. (2014). Outcomes of care for 16,924 planned home births in the United States: The Midwives Alliance of North America Statistics Project, 2004 to 2009. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, 59(1).

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