Reasons Why a Home Birth May (or May Not) Be Advisable During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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With anxiety running high as a result of COVID-19, many mamas-to-be are left wondering if the hospital is in fact the safest place to give birth. Nowadays, with the multiple birthing options available, are at home births safer for the mom and baby involved? While at home births are thought of as safe for low-risk pregnancies, experts still maintain that hospital births are still the safest during COVID-19 as well.

However, many expecting mothers remain increasingly nervous about visiting hospitals with shortages of PPE let alone giving birth in one. In addition to the apprehension in regard to germs, many mamas are also nervous about the number of friends and family that can come and support in the hospital. The CDC has limited friends and family – cutting down families and supporters for those giving birth tremendously.

In order to help access all the information and opinions, we have laid out some important information regarding home births as well as hospital births for all you mamas out there!

1. Home births are associated with fewer maternal interventions

Planned home births have been associated with fewer maternal interventions, lower risk of maternal infection and third- or fourth-degree lacerations and tears. Being able to have more control over their birth experience is also appealing to some moms. Homebirth risks include fewer options for pain control, the possibility of needing hospital transport in case of complications and increased risk of perinatal death.

2. If a home birth is chosen, it must be planned in advance

It is important to note that safe home births need to be mapped out, says Leana Wen, M.D., a visiting professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health and George Washington University. You’d need a licensed midwife (the American Academy of Pediatrics and ACOG recommend only midwives who are certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board), and if your current provider can’t or won’t support a home birth, that might require changing medical practices. You also need to stock up on supplies, like plastic-backed sheets, sterile gloves, and cord clamps. ACOG has additional guidelines for home births: Only moms carrying one baby, only deliveries between 37 and 41 weeks, only babies positioned for proper vaginal delivery and only if your labor started at home.

3. The official statement of the ACOG is that hospital births are safer

However, the official statement of the ACOG maintains that hospitals or birthing centers are still the safest places to give birth.

The majority of experts agree, for several important reasons:

  1. If a complication comes up, you and your baby are already in the best place to receive care.

Home births can be safe for low-risk pregnancies. But even for healthy women, serious complications can arise that require being transferred to the hospital ASAP.

  1. Getting to the hospital in the middle of a home birth could be harder right now. Ambulances and EMTs in your area may already be overwhelmed, causing them to get to you slower than they normally would.
  2. Being brought to the hospital mid-labor for a complication also means you’d start out in the emergency room. That could put you in close proximity to people seeking medical attention for COVID-19 symptoms, placing you at greater risk for contracting the virus.

Additionally, if you plan on giving birth in a hospital you are not brought through the emergency room doors, but through a separate entrance keeping you away from all germs and potential infections.

If you switching to a home birth feels like the best option for you, start by talking with your care team. Your doctor or midwife can help you weigh your concerns and guide you to figuring out what is best for you and for your baby.

Shoshi S.
Shoshi is a graduate from Stern College for Women in New York City. Her areas of interest include policy, non-profit organizations, and administration. During winter 2018, she was a White House intern. Shoshi has also interned at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and at Save the Children in New York. As a millennial, Shoshi brings a young and fresh perspective to the worlds of pregnancy and lactation.

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