Safety of home birth: Consequences of hemorrhage in home birth

The safety of home birth for women at no identifiable risk is a controversial issue. Approximately 40 per cent of women accessing midwives in BC choose to give birth at home. If there is an emergency related to birth, access to definitive care can be delayed by geography, weather and timing of labour. Severe hemorrhage (bleeding) during childbirth is a clinical emergency that requires immediate invasive interventions by specialized health professionals. It is one of the top three leading causes of death among mothers. Survivors are at risk of developing kidney damage, surgical removal of the uterus and adverse events associated with blood transfusions. But little is known about the consequences of hemorrhage in home birth. Eman Hassan is researching the risk of developing serious consequences following hemorrhage in the home birth setting. She is comparing rates of unfavourable events that occurred due to hemorrhage among planned home births and planned hospital births in the period 2002-2004. The study will provide important information to practicing midwives and childbearing women about what may contribute to hemorrhage, who is at greater risk of developing these events, and the factors that may affect timely access to specialized care. This information will help prevent serious health problems among women considering home birth in BC, and will also be applicable to other provinces in Canada.