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Guidelines Issued for Women Giving Birth at Home

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Thinking of giving birth to your baby at home?  You're not alone: there's been a small but growing number of home births in the U.S. over the last several years.

But there a few things to consider before deciding to ditch the hospital altogether, doctors warn.

The American Association of Pediatrics has issued a policy statement suggesting that if a baby is born at home, it should be checked thoroughly be a pediatrician who performs all of the protocol checks on the baby's health.

In addition, Dr. Kristi Watterberg, the author of the statement, says, "There should be one care provider there who is exclusively focused on the baby after it's born and that provider is capable and trained to do a resuscitation of that baby if needed."

This is because babies born at home may have a higher risk of death.

"There is a two to three fold increase in the mortality rate for babies born at home," Watterberg says.  "However, if you translate that into absolute terms that would be an increase of perhaps one in a thousand."

Babies being delivered at home should be normal sized -- not too big or too small -- according to the guidelines.

The mother should also make sure she is a good candidate for a home birth.  That means "a woman who is at term, not pre-term and not post-term.  She should not have any pre-existing disease like diabetes or hypertension that might cause her to have complications," Watterberg says.

"The most important thing is for her to discuss with her obstetric care provider whether she's a good candidate for a home birth or not," she advises.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio