Home Delivery of Babies

Honest information on natural birth and home delivery of babies, and the risks involved.

| May/June 1971

Learn about natural birth and home delivery of babies and the risks involved.

Home Delivery of Babies: Rewards vs Risks

MOTHER EARTH NEWS worries at the thought of a reader trying to deliver her baby at home with nothing but a recommended book propped beside her and I do not, in any way, suggest or encourage such a foolhardy practice. On the other hand, I am increasingly aware that numerous readers of this publication have had — or are planning — "natural" or home deliveries . . . often with only the sketchiest information and large amounts of wishful thinking to guide them.

Perhaps this brief review of natural and home deliveries and the risks involved — while not to be interpreted as a guide to nor endorsement of the idea — will at least offer you some honest information on the subject. I suggest that — after you digest this feature and the books recommended by the various authors — you contact The American Society for Psychoprophylaxis in Obstetrics, 36 West 96th St., New York, N.Y. 10025 and The International Childbirth Education Association, P.O. Box 5852, Milwaukee, Wisconsin for more information. Then, after consulting further with your own doctor and local childbirth organizations, you'll be in a firm position to make your own decision in the matter.

As recently as 1935, 65% of all babies born in the United States were delivered at home. At present, slightly less than 5% of this country's mothers deliver at home. Maternal deaths, during the same time interval, were cut from 60 per 10,000 to 5 per 10,000 and — as might be expected — the medical profession generally seems to feel that there's a direct correlation between the two sets of figures.

Some of us are not so easily persuaded by that reasoning, however. We know that much of this reduction in risk to a mother is due to the discovery of antibiotics and the widespread adoption of prenatal checkups (which detect and ward off complications of pregnancy before the actual delivery).

We also know that few medical people are apt to seek out and publicize the ways in which home deliveries actually reduce the risks involved in childbirth. For example, a mother at home will usually be watched and attended far more faithfully than she would if she were in a hospital; she will be less anxious in many cases; she will be much less likely to receive drugs which might poison the baby; her delivery will not be rushed by an obstetrician who is anxious to get on to something else; the baby will not be exposed to the virulent staphylococcus germs which breed in hospital nurseries.

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