Experts Advise Against Home Birth, Even During a Pandemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has devoted countless resources to ongoing research regarding the effects of the novel Coronavirus on pregnancy, and vice versa. Even in light of these efforts, much remains unknown about pregnancy during the COVID-19 pandemic (1). One area experts have recently weighed in on is the increased interest in home births as hospitals flood in waves with COVID-19 patients.

What do the experts say?

Many mothers across the country are considering a home birth to avoid the added risk of infection for themselves or their newborns during labor and delivery (2).Additionally, with hospitals cracking down on the number of visitors allowed to be present during childbirth, many mothers choose home birth to ensure they won’t be giving birth alone.

However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its recommendations in April to state that medical centers are the safest places for women to give birth. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has not changed its stance that birth in a hospital, accredited freestanding birth center, or hospital-based birth center is safer than a home birth. They assure patients that these facilities are trained to follow strict procedures to control the spread of infection (3).

  “Even during this pandemic, hospitals and accredited birth centers remain the safest places to give birth.” 

-ACOG Statement on Birth Settings

ACOG’s Statement on Birth Settings notes that home births are twice as likely to be associated with perinatal death (1-2 in 1,000) and three times as likely to be associated with serious neurologic dysfunction or neonatal seizures (0.4-0.6 in 1,000) (3).

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has similarly addressed the increased interest in home births across the country. They released a statement in April of 2020 that states that they do not recommend home births during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, understanding that there will be an increased number of home births, the AAP offers advice and guidance on ensuring that home births are safe during this time (4). 

Along with the noted risks of home births as stated by ACOG, the AAP notes in their statement that another major concern is emergency transportation. Women having a home birth know that certain emergencies will require immediate transport to the hospital. Depending on location, transportation to the hospital may be in lower supply because of the number of people requiring emergency care during the pandemic. Time of treatment is especially imperative when it comes to neonatal care, so getting fast transport to the hospital is an added concern for home birth pregnancies during the pandemic (4).

When home births can be considered

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), home births should only occur under the following circumstances, pandemic or not (2):

  • The pregnancy is considered low risk
  • The mother is between 37-41 weeks gestation
  • Labor started at home
  • The baby is head down
  • Uniparous births (one baby)

If you are considering a home birth, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits as early as possible. 

Disclaimer:

ABC Law Centers is not run by medical professionals or associated with a medical facility. The above information should not be taken as medical advice. Always contact a medical professional when you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or any other concerning symptoms during pregnancy. 

Sources:

  1. Data on COVID-19 during Pregnancy. (n.d.). Retrieved August 26, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/special-populations/pregnancy-data-on-covid-19.html
  2. Taylor, M. (2020, July 05). Should You Switch to a Home Birth Because of Coronavirus? Retrieved August 26, 2020, from https://www.whattoexpect.com/news/home-birth-coronavirus-hospital/
  3. Coronavirus (COVID-19), Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding. (n.d.). Retrieved August 26, 2020, from https://www.acog.org/patient-resources/faqs/pregnancy/coronavirus-pregnancy-and-breastfeeding
  4. Wyckoff, A. (2020, August 19). AAP does not recommend home births, but offers guidance. Retrieved August 26, 2020, from https://www.aappublications.org/news/2020/04/20/homebirths042020

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