HealthDay News reports on a Canadian study of the safety of home births attended by a registered midwife:
The mortality rate per 1,000 births was 0.35 in the home birth group, 0.57 in hospital births attended by midwives, and 0.64 among those attended by physicians, according to the study.
Women who gave birth at home were less likely to need interventions or to have problems such as vaginal tearing or hemorrhaging. These babies were also less likely to need oxygen therapy or resuscitation, the study found.
The authors acknowledge that "self-selection" could have skewed the study results, in that women who prefer home deliveries tend to be healthier and otherwise more fit to have a home birth.
Even with possible self selection, though, it's hard to ignore that difference in mortality rate.
And I suspect that midwives attending home births are much less likely to push women into unnecessary C-sections.
Speaking of which -- see this recent story where a district court held that a woman's refusal of an unnecessary C-section was “negligent”, and upheld taking her baby away. Because, you know, we might not be able to control who women marry anymore, and we can't stop them from using birth control, and we haven't been able to outlaw abortion yet, but by god we can still put them in their place by controlling how they give birth! Fortunately this part of the finding was overturned by the appellate court, but the fact that it was ever an issue ought to make you feel a bit queasy.