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Home Births on the Rise: Doctors Provide New Safety Guidelines

Update Date: Apr 29, 2013 10:49 AM EDT

The popularity of home births has been on the rise recently despite the fact that doctors are not too happy with this kind of method. Although the numbers of home births are still considered to be low with less than one percent of American babies being born at home, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) convened to develop a new set of guidelines for mothers who opt for the home birthing method. These guidelines will recommend midwives on how to properly tend to the safety of both mother and child. Even though the majority of the guidelines are reasonably easy to follow, this new publications have already sparked controversy amongst midwives.

Pregnant women who choose to give birth at home, often do so with the aid of midwives, whom are specialized in child bearing but are not medically trained to deal with possible illnesses. According to these new guidelines, the doctors are recommending women find midwives that are certified and trained by the American Midwifery Certification Board.  This specific board often trains midwives to deliver babies in the hospital and birthing center settings. Due to this endorsement by the AAP, other professional midwives that are accredited through different boards and registries, such as the North American Registry of Midwives (NARW) fear the loss of patients despite being qualified for the job. The midwives under the NARW tend to deliver babies in the home setting.

"The assumption is that one type of midwife is better than the other," Melissa Cheyney, who is a practicing certified midwife and associate professor of medical anthropology at Oregon State University. She also supervises the research division for the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA), which represents certified midwives.

Aside from this particular endorsement, the guidelines provide general recommendations such as, having at least one person, certified in infant CPR, during the birthing process be responsible for tending to the newborn. Other recommendations include having a phone line easily accessible, medical equipment that have already been tested and an immediate back up plan in case the mother needs to be transported to a hospital. Furthermore, the guidelines also stress the importance of having people who can perform the same tasks that a nurse would at the hospital, which includes monitoring baby temperatures and heart rates.

"No matter where a baby is born, they deserve the same standard of care," the lead author of the AAP's guidelines, Dr. Kristi Watterberg stated. Watterberg is a neonatologist and professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico.

The guidelines were published in the journal, Pediatrics

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