Entries in Birthing Centers (2)


Death After Home Birth Raises Questions

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Before hospitals became the go-to places for giving birth, having a baby at home was considered the norm. Now, with celebrities including Giselle Bundchen and Jennifer Connelly publicly announcing they opted for a home birth, the method is increasingly becoming more popular.

Recent studies show that home births are up 20 percent. But even with this renewed interest, less than one percent of babies in the United States are born at home.

However, the death of a respected home birth advocate in Australia as she herself gave birth at home resurrects the question of how safe home births are.

Caroline Lovell, 36, once advocated for midwife funding and legal protection in Australia. But in January, Lovell died of a heart attack just one day after giving birth at home to her second daughter, Zahra, the Australian newspaper Herald Sun reported.

One of the main appeals of home birth is the woman’s comfort from being in her own surroundings, according to Brad Imler, president of the American Pregnancy Association.

“The families that tend to elect home birth favor a natural birth,” said Imler.

The report sparked a burst of comments among mothers and mothers-to-be on online chat boards -- some of whom strayed further from the idea.

“Just one reason why I would never feel comfortable planning a home birth,” one mother commented on the online community “Nothing against those that choose to, but this is too scary to convince me.”

Imler said that he found cardiac arrest an extremely uncommon complication, and it should not be attributed to the fact that Lovell had a home birth.

“Having birth at home or at a hospital does not trigger the heart attack itself,” said Imler. “We don’t really know that the home birth brought it on.”

A majority of mothers who commented on agreed.

“Things can go wrong in childbirth regardless of where you give birth,” one mother wrote.

But the difference between home birth and hospital birth lies in having quick access to care should an unforeseen complication emerge.

“The question would be: Had she been in the hospital, would there have been ample time to resuscitate and save her life?” said Imler.

The American Pregnancy Association doesn’t advocate a mother choose one birthing method over another, as long as a mother is educated about the risks and benefits. The Lovell case certainly doesn’t change its stance.

However, Imler said, there are many women who choose birthing centers that try to recreate the full home birth feel but are more medically equipped with staff and services.

“Labor and delivery is not a condition, and that tends to be one of the connotations of the hospital,” said Imler.

Many hospital maternity wards are starting to provide a more comforting feel to the birthing process.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), hospitals and birthing centers are the safest places to have a baby.

Evidence suggests home births carry a two- to three-fold increased risk of newborn death compared to planned hospital births, ACOG said in a public statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man Captures Daughter's Birth on Tape While Driving

Zachary Russell videotaped the backseat birth of his daughter while driving his wife to their Mansfield, Texas, birthing center. (ABC News)(MANSFIELD, Texas) -- A determined dad-to-be managed to videotape the backseat birth of his daughter while driving his wife to their Mansfield, Texas, birthing center.

Zachary and Jennifer Russell were 15 minutes into the 45-minute trip when Jennifer's water broke. Moments later, baby Willow was born.

"By the time my water broke, I pushed once and she was out," Jennifer Russell told ABC News affiliate WFAA-TV. "I didn't think it was going to happen that fast."

The first thing proud papa did was whip out his video camera.

"I just kept making sure the frame was good and that I was staying on the road," Zachary Russell told WFAA. "I'm surprised. I did real well!"

While most moms-to-be make it to the delivery room with time to spare, experts say a quick labor can surprise even the most practiced of parents.

"The vast majority of women have plenty of warning before their baby is going to come," said Dr. Marjorie Greenfield, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. "But some people have very, very rapid labors."

Other unplanned labor locales include a New Jersey PATH train, a stuck service elevator in Spanaway, Wash., a Baltimore airport bathroom, a Denver library, a McDonald's in Vancouver, Wash., and an airplane en route to San Francisco.

Despite having a due date -- an estimate based on the time of conception -- babies tend to come out when they're ready, regardless of whether the parents feel the same. But several warning signs signal the start of labor, which for first-time moms lasts an average of 16 hours.

"About 1 percent of women break their water before they go into labor," said Greenfield. "It's usually a big gush, but sometimes it's more of a constant trickle." Either way, "you can usually tell."

There are other, more ubiquitous signs that a baby is ready to go: Contractions that start out feeling like menstrual cramps and steadily grow more intense; a tightening feeling across the lower back; and the sensation that the baby is curling up inside. But there are false alarms, too.

"I think that's part of what keeps people from acting at first," said Greenfield. "People sometimes feel crampier and have more pelvic pressure" late in pregnancy. "And there's the bloody show -- mucus and blood coming out of the cervix. But they're not very predictive of labor."

Some women are caught off-guard because they don't feel pain with contractions.

"Everyone's been telling them, 'Pain, pain, pain,' and they don't recognize what contractions feel like," said Greenfield of the women some would call lucky. "But that's pretty rare."

Even for veteran moms who've been there, done that, labor can be sneaky.

"If their first baby came in two hours, the next baby may be the one they're going to deliver in the car on the way to the hospital," said Greenfield. "The second delivery, on average, is usually half the length of the first."

Although few women would choose the backseat of a Ford Compact over a birthing center, Greenfield said quick labors are usually a sign that everything is going smoothly.

"This is the way nature intended," she said. "Labor wasn't intended to happen in hospitals hooked up to IVs."

Wherever they're born, babies need to be dry and warm.

"The most important thing is to dry it off and put it skin-to-skin against mom," said Greenfield. The next step is to get mom and baby to the nearest hospital. "It's so dramatic and exciting," said Greenfield. "When it ends well, it's certainly a story to tell."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio