Expectant mothers in Oregon who have decided to have a home birth may want to rethink that decision. As reported in The New York Times, 2012 Oregon statistics showed that babies delivered in planned home births had a death rate nearly seven times that of babies born in hospitals.
In addition, national statistics show that the perinatal death rate for home birth babies is at least triple the rate for hospital births. A perinatal death is when a baby dies during the last weeks of the mother’s pregnancy or during the first week after delivery.
Types of midwives
The Oregon Midwifery Council defines the two types of midwives in this state as Direct-Entry Midwives and Nurse-Midwives. A Direct-Entry Midwife receives his or her training through self-study or a midwifery school and serve an apprenticeship prior to receiving a license. A Nurse-Midwife trains first as a nurse, then as a midwife. These two categories are further broken down as follows:
- A Licensed Direct-Entry Midwife can provide care during the prenatal and postpartum periods, as well as during the birth itself. LDMs can work either in homes or birth centers and can give their patients oxygen, drugs to treat hemorrhage, and IV therapy if needed, as well as local anesthetics during suturing. They also can give ophthalmic antibiotics and vitamin K to newborns and can order lab tests, ultrasounds and newborn metabolic screenings.
- A Certified Nurse-Midwife is an Advanced Practice Nurse with a master’s degree. Most CNMs practice in hospitals, but some also practice in homes and birth centers.
- A Certified Professional Midwife can provide well-woman care in addition to prenatal, birth and postpartum care. However, CPMs are allowed to practice without a license if they meet certain requirements. CPMs cannot use anti-hemorrhagic drugs or IV therapy and cannot suture.
Since childbirth is an inherently dangerous process, expectant mothers would do well to remember that in the United States, the 20th century switch from home births to hospital births resulted in a 99 percent decrease in maternal deaths and a 90 percent decrease in neonatal deaths. When childbirth complications occur, only a hospital has the antibiotics, blood bank, and experienced doctors to safely perform a C-section and the advanced neonatal procedures that could save the life of both the mother and her baby.