Each pregnant woman faces a host of choices related to the planning of her child’s birth. American women can now frequently choose between hospital, birthing center and home births. There are many legitimate reasons why some women opt for home births. Unfortunately, these women often face higher rates of complications, fetal death and birth injuries than they would if they gave birth in a medical facility.

In order to safely honor the choice of many women to opt for home birth, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently published a supplemental set of guidelines for home births to be used in addition to a similar set of guidelines most recently updated in 2011 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The AAPs standards are “intended to help pediatricians provide supportive, informed counsel to women considering home birth,” according to the newly released document.

The standards will help to guide physicians and the 30,000 expectant American mothers who give birth at home annually remain as safe as possible. In particular, the standards outline what kinds of newborn care measures must be taken care of in the immediate aftermath of the child’s birth. Hospitals have standardized care procedures for newborns and these standards will help to ensure that home birth babies receive the same standard of care.

It can be difficult to make sure that all details of maternal and neonatal care are attended to during and immediately after a home birth. These new standards will hopefully help to change the fact that home births result in more than two times the average rate of neonatal death.

Source: amednews.com, “Pediatricians offer newborn care standards for home births,” Kevin B. O’Reilly, May 13, 2013