Best Practice Guidelines for Home Birth to Hospital Transfer
Sidenote: I have had five children in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2013, and 2015. I've had two induced hospital births (once by medical need, once by choice), a hospital transfer during home birth, and two successful home births. After being treated just like another number, I knew there had to be more to birth than pushing a baby out and going home. Unfortunately, there is a lack of support across the board. Whether you decide to have an epidural or go pain med free, women should have access to the information to make informed choices. (Avery's birth story. Hallie's birth story. Ellia's birth story.)
Home birth is a very safe option for low risk pregnancies. Some people still see it as a very old fashioned option. We chose home birth because we desired a setting in which I could birth without unnecessary interventions. While my first pregnancy was complicated, my last three pregnancies have been completely healthy and uncomplicated. The need for medical intervention did not arise. We received midwife led prenatal care by our Certified Nurse Midwife. You can read more about safety outcomes of home birth as studied by the Midwives Alliance of North America. One of the best conclusions of this study is showing the cesarean rate of 5.2%, vs. the national average of 32.8% according to the current information available on the CDC website. How many of those c-sections are unnecessary?
The Home Birth Consensus Summit has generated a set of guidelines that are designed for the clear collaboration of home birth team and hospital staff. This is such an important process to have in place, because sometimes hospital staff isn't aware of the prenatal care that midwives provide. Believe me, I do know this to be true from our transfer experience.
While I'm not going to be able to post the entire text of the guidelines on my blog, I wanted to share the twofold purpose of the guidelines:
1. To highlight core elements to be included when developing documents and policies related to
transfer from home to hospital.
2. To promote the highest quality of care for women and families across birth settings via
respectful inter-professional collaboration, ongoing communication, and the provision of
compassionate family-centered care.
*Read the entire text of the Best Practice Guidelines.
Some of the guidelines include allowing a woman to let her midwife remain present in the hospital setting for support, if she so chooses. When possible, allow the mother and newborn to stay together after admission and during hospital care. Also, hospital staff and providers should be sensitive to the psychosocial needs of the woman that result from the change of birth setting.
Again, those are just a few highlights of the Best Practice Guidelines. I absolutely cannot stress enough that birth cannot be just viewed from a medical standpoint. Please understand that as a mom of four and a birth advocate, I know that prenatal care is important and that medical issues arise during pregnancy. But in the United States and several other countries, we have gotten away from the needs of a mother. We have gotten away from our most basic primal instincts. Bonding. Love. Breastfeeding. Birth is more than just a medical procedure.
According to the CDC, the number of planned out of hospital births has been on the rise for several years now. An out of hospital birth means at a birth center or a home birth. This number is predicted to continue to climb. As more women are opening up to alternative birth choices, it is imperative that these guidelines are put in place across the board. You can read more about these statistics at the CDC website.
Have you had a home birth? What are your birth experiences?