When figuring out your ideal birth plan, one of the most important things to decide is where to give birth. This creates quite the divide between moms and moms-to-be alike. The most popular option is giving birth in a hospital, but there are other options out there. This includes having a home birth or visiting a birth center. Both are gaining popularity, yet the latter in particular is chosen more between the two.
But is having your baby at a birth center a truly safe thing to do? A new study out of Australia reveals that giving birth in a birth center is just as safe as doing so in a hospital. It turns out that women who give birth inside of a birth center are less likely to need certain interventions. Such interventions include c-sections, forceps, and vacuums- all of which increase certain health risks for both mother and baby.
This study had researchers collect the data from many pregnant women living in Australia between 2000 to 2012. All of these women were grouped into one of three categories based on where they planned to give birth: hospital, birth center, and at home. 1.25 million births were tracked, and the statistics on women who gave birth where were vastly different. 93.6 percent of women (1.17 million) gave birth in a hospital; 5.7 percent (71 505) had their baby in a birth center, and 0.7 percent (8212) had home births. When it comes to home births, it's worth noting that it doesn't include women who had to go to the hospital during their home birth, as well as women who had an unassisted home birth.
The women who participated in the study were healthy and had easy pregnancies. They also gave birth to one baby who wasn't born breech when the woman was anywhere from 37 to 41 weeks gestation. They also had absolutely no medical and/or obstetric risks to speak of.
It turns out that women who gave birth in a hospital were about three times less likely to have a natural vaginal birth than those who delivered their baby in a birth center. Women who had their baby in a hospital were more likely than women who had their baby in a birth center to have a c-section (7.8 percent vs. four percent); an epidural (13.8 percent vs. 6.5 percent), use forceps (4.6 percent vs. 2.5 percent), use oxycontin to speed up labour (16.5 percent vs. 8.1 percent), or use a vacuum (7.3 percent vs. 3.5 percent).
The complication rates were fairly similar between women who had their babies in a hospital when compared to women who had their babies in a birth center. Such complications taken into consideration during this study include readmission and severe postpartum hemorrhaging. The number of stillbirths and babies who died upwards to four weeks old was quite solid between hospitals and birth centers. Having said that, it was discovered that babies born at birth centers were a little more likely to be readmitted for intensive care for over 48 hours.
One of the goals of this study was to address the concern that pregnant women need medical interventions when giving birth. It turns out that Australia's rate of such intervention is higher than most other developed countries. For example, the country's c-section rate is 35 percent, which is much higher than the World Health Organization's (WHO) rate of 10 to 15 percent. This is a concern that Australia wants to address properly.
The belief is that allowing and encouraging more pregnant women to give birth either in a birth center or at home will decrease such percentages throughout the country. But with birth centers being far and few between in Australia, it's hard for women to get into one in the first place. Here's hoping that the country will slowly build more birth centers everywhere so that more women can safely have their babies.