Home Birth Pros and Cons

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Expecting Better" by Emily Oster. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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<1% of women in the US have a home birth. If you’re high risk (breech, twins, gestational diabetes), you’ll probably need a hospital birth, as it’ll be hard to find a midwife to attend a risky birth.

But if you can have a home birth, should you have one? Learn the advantages and disadvantages of home birth here.

Home birth supporters will say that delivering at home is how it’s been traditionally done. It’s more comfortable, and you don’t risk the hospital forcing you to get a treatment you don’t want. Studies also show that births at home show fewer vaginal tears and lower infection rates.

In contrast, hospitals are useful for interventions – emergency C-sections, Pitocin to reduce hemorrhage, epidurals, doctors who have seen plenty of unique birth situations before.

Research is mixed on infant death and outcomes on home birth vs hospital birth.

Up to a third of mothers planning first-time home births change their mind during labor and deliver in the hospital. This abrupt transition will probably be more disruptive than starting in the hospital. 

If you do choose home birth, Oster suggests working with a certified nurse-midwife, who will have the most training and certification. Certified professional midwives don’t have a nursing degree, and direct entry midwives don’t have a college degree and no license. 

A good compromise – your hospital may have a more comfortable birthing center, a comfier room with a tub, a bigger bed, and less fetal monitoring.

Home Birth Pros and Cons

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Allen Cheng

Allen Cheng is the founder of Shortform. He has a passion for non-fiction books (having read 200+ and counting) and is on a mission to make the world's best ideas more accessible to everyone. He reads broadly, covering a wide range of subjects including finance, management, health, and society. Allen graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude and attended medical training at the MD/PhD program at Harvard and MIT. Before Shortform, he co-founded PrepScholar, an online education company.

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