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Use of a Midwife May Increase Risks of Birth Injury

Many mothers considering their options may turn to midwifery, the ancient practice of delivering children at home with the assistance of a friend, family member or professional who has delivered children in the past. While the cost of midwifery is less than half that of hospital births, some question whether the cost savings is worth it when you consider the risks to the infant and mother.

A recent study by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists indicates that birth injury rates, including the likelihood of neonatal death, may be higher for at-home deliveries than hospital deliveries.

At-Home Birth May be Two to Three Times More Dangerous

The ACOG study notes that neonatal death rates were two times more likely in planned at-home birth situations versus those undertaken at a hospital. In non-anomalous situations, where the birth is considered low-risk, the births undertaken at home were 2.9 times more likely to result in neonatal death. Factors contributing to this statistic may include the amount of time it takes to get to a hospital should complications arise and the low instance of available Cesarean delivery options at home.

According to the ACOG, studies showing that at-home births are safe usually only involve healthy pregnant women. Many of these reports have exceptionally strict selection criteria that exclude preexisting maternal diseases, diseases arising from the pregnancy, cephalic presentation and referrals to other health care options. ACOG recommends that Cesarean and similar procedures only be undertaken in a hospital setting.

Should You Avoid Hiring a Midwife?

The question is more complicated than a study about the risks may make it seem. In some cases, the rewards of at-home birth, including lower overall expenses for low-risk and uncomplicated deliveries, may be a big draw — and a good option — for many expecting mothers.

Yet, it is important to understand the risks. The facilities and expertise available to midwives and others attempting at-home births may not always be adequate to ensure the well-being of both mother and child. This is especially true if complications exist prior to the time of delivery or arise during the birthing process.

If you feel that a midwife or other health care professional may have caused a birth injury or other complications during pregnancy, a birth injury lawyer can help you evaluate the situation and seek answers.


Located in Philadelphia, Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman, P.C., home of MyPhillyLawyer, serves clients in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, and throughout the United States.

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