Outcomes of 11,788 planned home births attended by certified nurse-midwives. A retrospective descriptive study

J Nurse Midwifery. 1995 Nov-Dec;40(6):483-92. doi: 10.1016/0091-2182(95)00051-8.


This study describes the outcomes of 11,788 planned home births attended by certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) from 1987 to 1991. A retrospective survey was used to obtain information about the outcomes of intended home birth, including hospital transfers, as well as practice protocols, risk screening, and emergency preparedness. Ninety nurse-midwifery home birth practices provided data for this report (66.2% of identified nurse-midwifery home birth practices). It is estimated that 60-70% of all CNM-attended home births reported in national statistics data during this period were represented in this survey. The overall perinatal mortality was 4.2 per 1,000, including known third-trimester fetal demises. There were no maternal deaths. The intrapartum and neonatal mortality for those intending home birth at the onset of labor was 2 per 1,000; the overall neonatal mortality rate for this group was 1.3 per 1,000. When deaths associated with congenital anomalies were excluded, the intrapartum and neonatal mortality rate was 0.9 per 1,000; the neonatal mortality was 0.2 per 1,000. The overall transfer rate, including antepartum referrals, was 15.9%. The intrapartum transfer rate for those intending home birth at the onset of labor was 8%. Most responding nurse-midwives used standard risk-assessment criteria, only delivered low-risk women at home, and were prepared with emergency equipment necessary for immediate neonatal resuscitation or maternal emergencies. This study supports previous research indicating that planned home birth with qualified care providers can be a safe alternative for healthy lower risk women.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Home Childbirth / nursing
  • Home Childbirth / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / epidemiology
  • Nurse Midwives*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology*
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States / epidemiology