The overall death rate from labor through six weeks was 2.06 per 1000 when higher risk women (i.e., those with breech babies or twins, those attempting VBAC, or those with preeclampsia or gestational diabetes) are included in the sample, and 1.61 per 1000 when only low risk women are included.
Many midwifery organizations touted this as "proof" that homebirth is safe.
The problem is... according to the CDC for the same period (2004-2009), for the low-risk white female giving birth in a hospital, the baby's death rate is 0.38 in 1000.
In fact, MANA's data may be worse than useless, as it is apparently based on a voluntary survey. Midwives can choose to enter the data, or not. In the 5 years, it only managed to collect data on less than 17000 homebirths. Yet according to CDC, home births accounted for 0.56% to 0.72% of all births during that period. Average homebirth stat, according to CDC, is about 26400 per year, or 132000 during that 5 year period. Yet MANA only managed to get reports for less than 17000 of them. That's data on less than 13% of homebirths during the study period. One wonders if the data they collected is truly representative of their practice across the nation.
What's even more interesting is midwives usually pick only the most healthy of the pregnant women as clients. According to Eileen Beard, a senior advisor for American College of Nurse Midwives, as told to CNN. This is also confirmed by the CDC stats.
Beard said certified midwives have guidelines and protocols they follow. Mothers should be healthy with no major medical problems or obstetrical complications. And if there's a problem during delivery, they don't hesitate to take the mother to a hospital.
Yet somehow they STILL manage to incur a neonatal death rate that is several times higher than hospital birth, even AFTER picking the healthiest of patients.
One factor may be lack of uniform medical training. According to the CDC studies mentioned earlier, only about 25% of all homebirths are attended by someone with medical training, i.e. a physician or a certified nurse-midwife.
Together, this seems to suggest that home birth is EXTREMELY RISKY compared to hospital birth, esp. if you don't have a trained medical professional attending a homebirth.