Although giving birth in a hospital is still deemed the safest option by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the AAP released guidelines for home births in its May Pediatrics issue in a nod to the growing number of women who wish to deliver at home.
The guidelines cover care for the first hours and days of an infant's life, and mandate that a caregiver be present whose sole responsibility is for the well-being of the baby, reports NBC News.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, home births have risen almost 30 percent from 2004 to 2009, and among non-Hispanic white women, one in 90 will opt for home births. The guidelines' lead author Dr. Kristi Watterberg, a neonatologist and University of New Mexico pediatrics professor, said that these guidelines were made necessary by the spike in home birth rates.
“We concur with ACOG that hospitals and birthing centers appear to be the safest settings for birth in the U.S., but respect the right of women to make their own decisions about delivery,” she said.
The Midwives Alliance of North America said the guidelines correspond to what women should expect from home births attended by midwives: "“We are very happy to see that these new guidelines overlap completely with the standard of care that is expected of certified professional midwives,” said Melissa Cheyney, chair of research at MANA and an Oregon State University associate professor.