Objective: To describe the outcomes of intended home birth in the practices of certified nurse-midwives.
Methods: Twenty-nine US nurse-midwifery practices were recruited for the study in 1994. Women presenting for intended home birth in these practices were enrolled in the study from late 1994 to late 1995. Outcomes for all enrolled women were ascertained. Validity and reliability of submitted data were established.
Results: Of 1404 enrolled women intending home births, 6% miscarried, terminated the pregnancy or changed plans. Another 7.4% became ineligible for home birth prior to the onset of labor at term due to the development of perinatal problems and were referred for planned hospital birth. Of those women beginning labor with the intention of delivering at home, 102 (8.3%) were transferred to the hospital during labor. Ten mothers (0.8%) were transferred to the hospital after delivery, and 14 infants (1.1%) were transferred after birth. Overall intrapartal fetal and neonatal mortality for women beginning labor with the intention of delivering at home was 2.5 per 1000. For women actually delivering at home, intrapartal fetal and neonatal mortality was 1.8 per 1000.
Conclusion: Home birth can be accomplished with good outcomes under the care of qualified practitioners and within a system that facilitates transfer to hospital care when necessary. Intrapartal mortality during intended home birth is concentrated in postdates pregnancies with evidence of meconium passage.