Evidence backs women's choice on where to have their babies

October 29, 2019

Healthy women have more than twice the chance of a normal labour and birth in a planned birth centre birth compared to a planned hospital birth, a major Australian study has found.

The study of more than 1.2 million Australian births provides new evidence about the safety of places of birth, especially birth centres and homebirth, and supports the development of safe midwife-led birth options for healthy women.

Researchers examined outcomes of 1,251,420 births from 2000 to 2012 to women with full-term (37-41 completed weeks' gestation), singleton pregnancies without complications. Of these, 93.6 per cent were planned hospital births, 5.7 per cent were in a birth centre and 0.7 per cent were at home.

Compared with planned hospital births, the odds of normal labour and birth were more than twice as high in planned birth centre births and nearly six times as high in planned home births.

Planned birth centre births resulted in:Women with planned home births had similarly positive maternal outcomes with no statistically significant differences in the rate of perinatal mortality or admission to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Led by Professor Caroline Homer of the Centre for Midwifery, Child and Family Health at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), the study is the first comprehensive examination of maternal and perinatal outcomes from three birth settings across Australia.

Professor Homer, who is also Co-Program Director Maternal and Child Health at Burnet Institute, said the data was positive and encouraging, and supported the development of safe midwife-led birth options for healthy women.

"Australia's debate on place of birth, especially the safety of giving birth at home, has been hampered by a lack of national data," Professor Homer said. "The more successfully these community-based options are integrated and planned for in a country's maternity system, the better the outcomes are for mothers and babies."

Study co-author David Ellwood, Professor of Obstetrics & Gynaecology and Dean of Medicine at Griffith University, said: "This is the largest Australian study ever completed on birth outcomes by place of birth for low-risk women, and unequivocally shows the lack of measurable differences in terms of major safety risks for mother or baby. Moreover, women who choose an option other than the labour ward can expect much lower rates of interventions.

"From an obstetrician's perspective, the results of this study clearly demonstrate that there are advantages for women and their babies in being able to choose their place of birth," Professor Ellwood said.

From a policy perspective, the important elements in the outcomes for birth centre and home births are the leading role of midwives and the continuity of care they can provide. There is also an economic benefit when less intervention is required for mother and/or baby.

Professor Homer said both so-called "alternative" places of birth need to be considered as valid and reasonable options for Australian women, as is the case in many similar countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand.

"Deciding where to give birth should be a woman's choice and now we have even more evidence to inform that choice."
The paper Maternal and perinatal outcomes by planned place of birth in Australia 2000 - 2012: A linked population data study is published in BMJ Open.

University of Technology Sydney

Related Birth Articles from Brightsurf:

The birth of a bacterial tRNA gene
The Microbial Evolutionary Dynamics Group at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön has directly observed the birth of a tRNA gene, using experimental evolution of bacterial populations in the laboratory.

Your brain on birth control
Millions of women have been taking oral contraceptives, but little is known about whether the synthetic hormones found in the oral contraceptives have behavioural and neurophysiological effects, especially during puberty and early adolescence, which are critical periods of brain development.

Virgin birth has scientists buzzing
In a study published today in Current Biology, researchers from University of Sydney have identified the single gene that determines how Cape honey bees reproduce without ever having sex.

Birth timing may affect brain development
Moving birth a day early triggers an early start to widespread neuron death, according to new research in mice published in eNeuro.

The birth of vision, from the retina to the brain
How do neurons differentiate to become individual components of the visual system?

Baby pterodactyls could fly from birth
A breakthrough discovery has found that pterodactyls, extinct flying reptiles also known as pterosaurs, had a remarkable ability -- they could fly from birth.

Study identifies possible causes of and protectors against premature birth
Seven types of bacteria and certain immune factors in a woman's vagina and cervix may be responsible for increasing the risk of spontaneous preterm birth (sPTB) or protect against it, according to a new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Certain characteristics linked with depression before and after giving birth
Depression during pregnancy and following childbirth (perinatal depression) is a common and potentially severe condition.

Medically assisted reproduction does not raise risk of preterm birth and low birth weight
Study shows that couples can decide about using medically assisted reproduction free from concerns about increasing the health risks to their baby.

How to 'jumpstart' rhythmic breathing at birth
Researchers reveal neuronal pathways that 'jumpstart' breathing at birth and may explain breathing abnormalities seen in premature babies.

Read More: Birth News and Birth Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.