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Is Homebirth Safe? - Find out with this scientific study. 
A Breech Birth Photo Story -Check out this website to see photos of a mom giving birth to her third baby who is breech! A completely unmedicated birth without intervention (no episiotomy, no IV, no forceps, etc). Worth waiting for the pics to download. 
Breech Birth Plan - Compiled by a mom preparing for her babies breech birth
More Breech Information - including turning techniques.

Back to main birth categories page

Is Homebirth Safe?
The Mehl Study
One of the largest scientific studies comparing the outcomes of homebirth with hospital birth was done by Dr. Lewis Mehl and Associates.

This study compared the outcomes of matched populations.  In the study, 1,056 homebirths were compared with 1,046 hospital births in the U.S.  For each home-delivered patient, a hospital-delivered patient was matched for age, length of gestation, parity, risk factor score, education and economic status, race, presentation of the baby, and individual major risk factors. Both groups had trained birth attendants and received regular prenatal care.

Cesarean Operation


Pitocin Induction        (to accelerate or induce labor)

Analgesia & Anesthesia


Infant Distress in Labor

Maternal High Blood Pressure

Postpartum Hemorrhage

Infection of Newborn

Newborn Needing Help  to Breathe

Birth Injuries

Infant Death Rate

Maternal Death Rate

In the hospital: Three times greater

In the hospital: Twenty times more use

In the hospital: Twice as much used

In the hospital: Nine times more use

In the hospital: Nine times greater incidence, while at the same time they had more incidence of severe tears in need of major repair.

In the hospital: Six times more distress

In the hospital: Five times more cases

In the hospital: Three times greater

In the hospital: Four times more cases

In the hospital: Three times more babies needed help

In the hospital: There were THIRTY cases of birth injuries, including skull fractures, facial nerve palsies, brachial nerve injuries and severe cephalohematomas. THERE WERE NO SUCH INJURIES AT HOME.

Infant death rate was low in both groups and essentially the same.

There were no maternal deaths for either group.

Length of Labor: The overall length of labor at home was longer:

-First stage of labor - 12 hours compared to 8 for hospital.
-Second stage of labor - 72 minutes vs. an average of 42 for hospital.
-Third stage (birth of the placenta) averaged 21 minutes for home and 5 minutes for hospital.
These differences are explained in terms of the customary hospital procedures that hasten labor (pitocin, amniotomy (breaking the waters), forceps, fundal pressure, cord traction in 3rd stage, etc.) whereas at home, labor was customarily allowed to progress at its own natural pace without such interventions.  The superior outcomes of the home birth group would suggest that the philosophy of hospital obstetrics to rush and shorten labors in not in the best interest of the mother or the baby's safety.

This study thus proved a significant improvement of the mother and baby's health if the couple planned a homebirth.

A Breech Birth Plan
Compiled by Diane in anticipation of her 7th babies birth....

Gleaned from…

Goer, Henci. 1999. The Thinking Woman’s Guide To A Better Birth. A Perigree Book Published by The Berkley Publishing Group, New York.

Balaskas, Janet and Gordon, Yehudi. 1992. The Encyclopedia of Pregnancy and Birth. Macdonald & Co (Publishers) Ltd, London and Sydney.

Goer, Henci. 1995. Obstetric Myths Versus Research Realities - A Guide to Medical Literature.  Bergin & Garvey, USA

  • Most of the poor outcomes in breech babies have nothing to do with birth route.
  • Vaginal breech birth is a reasonable choice.  I have confidence in my own natural processes of birth and the experience and skill of the midwives and doctors attending my birth.
  • Caesarean section does not remove the risks of breech birth, including birth injury, and it increases maternal risk.  I understand that if spontaneous birth is not possible with a breech baby, then a Caesarean section may be necessary.  I wish to avoid an unnecessary Caesarean but I am reassured to know that modern skill and expertise is available to increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for both me and the baby if a Caesarean does prove essential.
  • Forceps may not always be required at vaginal delivery.
  • An episiotomy is not always required at vaginal delivery. 

The First Stage of Labour 

The baby’s heartbeat should be regularly monitored, and a vaginal examination should be done to exclude the possibility of a foot slipping through a partly dilated cervix, or of the umbilical cord prolapsing.  If the breech is easily engaged in the pelvis, I would anticipate a normal second stage.

The Second Stage of Labour

I should not bear down before the cervix is fully dilated.  A supported squatting position is safest for the vaginal delivery of a breech baby because it opens the pelvis fully, allows the best use of gravity, and encourages the baby’s head to engage.

I wish to avoid an episiotomy if possible, and would rather tear.  I would like hot washers to be applied to my perineal area and to be told, if necessary, when and when not to push.

Once the cord has emerged, the pressure of the baby’s chest against the pelvic cavity will compress it and reduce the supply of placental blood.  Gravity and gently traction on the baby will assist the birth.

After the shoulders have emerged, the attendant carefully controls the speed at which the head is born.  This should be done with ease in an active birth and a supported squatting position.

More Breech Birth Information

Mother Care
Breech Information and Breech Turning Techniques
This webpage looks at the choices needed to be made for a breech birth, then at what can be done in regard to a vaginal breech birth and turning baby into a head-down or vertex position.

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by Jill Cohen
An excellent
waterbirth article
from a previous
issue of Midwifery
Today. Click on
link to read
The Benefits of
Water, Laboring in
the Water and