Intended for healthcare professionals


Home birth

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 23 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1276
  1. Nachiel P Springer,
  2. Chris Van Weel
  1. Professor Department of General Practice, Leiden University, PO Box 2088, 230 CB, Leiden, Netherlands
  2. Professor Department of General Practice and Social Medicine, University of Nijmegen, PO Box 9101, 6500 HB Nijmegen, Netherlands

    Safe in selected women, and with adequate infrastructure and support

    Birth is an event of great importance in family life. Although pregnancy and delivery are, under healthy conditions, normal social and physiological processes, childbirth has become hospital centred in most industrialised countries. The assumption is that hospital based deliveries are safer for mother and child. Yet the Cumberlege report sees home birth as a real option,1 and the wishes of women to have home births must be viewed in that light. A randomised controlled trial would help to resolve the controversy over the relative safety of home and hospital birth,2 but conditions for a “fair” trial are difficult to achieve. Such a study would require large numbers because of the low frequency of adverse events, and the necessary environment of experienced home deliveries has virtually disappeared. In the absence of a randomised trial, observational studies are welcome, and this week's BMJ …

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