Labor and delivery (18)
- Water breaking: Understand this sign of labor
- Signs of labor: Know what to expect
- Stages of labor: Baby, it's time!
- see all in Labor and delivery
Postpartum care (16)
- Maternity leave: Tips for returning to work
- C-section recovery: What to expect
- Postpartum care: What to expect after a vaginal delivery
- see all in Postpartum care
Home birth: Know the pros and cons
Wondering if a planned home birth is right for you? Get the facts about what a home birth involves, the possible risks and how to prepare for the big day.By Mayo Clinic staff
If you're considering a planned home birth, you probably have questions. Is it safe? Will you need a midwife or doula? How do you create a backup plan? Find out what's involved in a planned home birth and how to decide if this birthing method is right for you.
What happens during a planned home birth?
During a planned home birth you'll give birth in your home instead of in a hospital or birth center. You'll be assisted during labor and delivery by a midwife or, in some cases, a doctor. During your prenatal care your health care provider will review a list of conditions during pregnancy and labor that would require treatment by a doctor and compromise the safety of a planned home birth. Your health care provider will also review the challenges that can occur during childbirth, how he or she — in comparison with a hospital — would handle them, and the possible health risks for you and your baby.
During labor, your health care provider will periodically — rather than continuously — monitor your temperature, pulse, blood pressure and your baby's heart rate. After delivery, you'll be close to your baby. Your health care provider will examine your newborn and determine whether he or she needs to be transferred to a hospital. In addition, your health care provider will give you information on how to care for your newborn. Follow-up care might include home visits and lactation support.
Why do women choose planned home births?
You might choose a planned home birth for many reasons, including:
- A desire to give birth in a familiar, relaxing environment surrounded by people of your choice
- A desire to wear your own clothes, take a shower or bath, eat, drink and move around freely during labor
- A desire to control your labor position or other aspects of the birthing process
- A desire to give birth without medical intervention, such as pain medication
- Cultural or religious norms or concerns
- A history of fast labor
- Lower cost
Are there situations when a planned home birth isn't recommended?
A planned home birth isn't right for everyone. Your health care provider might caution against a planned home birth if you:
- Have diabetes, chronic hypertension, a seizure disorder or any chronic medical condition
- Previously had a C-section
- Use tobacco or illegal drugs
- Develop a pregnancy complication, such as preeclampsia, preterm labor or significant anemia
- Are pregnant with multiples or your baby doesn't settle into a position that allows for a headfirst delivery
- Are less than 37 weeks or more than 41 weeks pregnant
(1 of 2)
- Malloy MH. Infant outcomes of certified nurse midwife attended home births: United States 2000 to 2004. Journal of Perinatology. 2010;30:622.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Obstetric Practice. Planned home birth. Committee opinion No. 476. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2011;117:425.
- Wax JR, et al. Maternal and newborn outcomes in planned home birth vs planned hospital births: A metaanalysis. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 2010;203:243.e1.
- Janssen PA, et al. The experience of planned home birth: Views of the first 500 women. Birth. 2009;36:297.
- Declerq E, et al. Planned home birth. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed March 16, 2011.
- Where women give birth. American College of Nurse-Midwives. http://www.mymidwife.org/index.asp?bid=130. Accessed March 23, 2011.
- Boucher D, et al. Staying home to give birth: Why women in the United States choose home birth. 2009;54:119.
- Davis-Floyd R. Home birth emergencies in the U.S. and Mexico: The trouble with transport. Social Science and Medicine. 2003;56:1911.
- Is home birth right for you? American College of Nurse-Midwives. http://www.mymidwife.org/index.asp?bid=162. Accessed March 25, 2011.
- Your Pregnancy and Childbirth: Month to Month. 5th ed. Washington, D.C.: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; 2010:124.
- Stuebe A, et al. Continuous intrapartum support. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed March 25, 2011.
- Shelov SP, et al. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. 5th ed. New York, N.Y.: Bantam Books; 2010: 47.
- Lothian JA. Preparation for labor and childbirth. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 3, 2011.
- Johnson KC, et al. Outcomes of planned home births with certified professional midwives: Large prospective study in North America. British Medical Journal. 2005;330:1.
- Newborn screening. http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/pediatricgenetics/newborn_screening.html. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Accessed June 7, 2011.