Master of Science (MS)


Veterinary Medical Sciences - Pathobiological Sciences

Document Type



Much debate surrounds the topic of women choosing to deliver their infants at home with the services of a midwife. The outcomes of women beginning labor at home, ultimately delivering at home, and the infants born at home were studied in order to determine the safety of home birth among expectant women choosing to be attended by a midwife licensed to practice by the state of Louisiana. Trends associated with those choosing home birth and the frequency of home birth were also analyzed. The study was conducted using retrospective records of clients accepted during the study years 1986-2000. During the study years, the midwives began care on 284 women. Of those women, 225 delivered at home, 31 were transported to the hospital at some point, 7 voluntarily left the midwife’s care, and 20 were referred out for various reasons. The only cause of infant mortality in the home births was congenital anomalies. There were no maternal deaths or significant maternal morbidity. The years with the largest number of home births were 1997, 1998, and 1999 with 32, 35, and 32 births respectively. During these three years there were three actively practicing midwives, with a fourth serving only six women total. The same three midwives were also practicing in 2000, but the number of home births dropped sharply to 20 due to difficulties attaining physician back-up. Most women who chose home birth had already had a child. Only 20.8% were primiparous. Complications and obstetric procedures were infrequent, outcomes were good, and the breastfeeding rate was 100% with most babies being nursed within one hour of birth. The cesarean section rate for all women who began labor with the intention of delivering at home was 6.2%, much lower than the national cesarean rate which averages 22%. Comparisons were also made to vital statistics data available for East Baton Rouge Parish and national records Home birth attended by a licensed midwife is safe and has outcomes as good as or better than that of hospital birth. Home birth with a trained midwife should be a option available to low-risk women.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Martin E. Hugh-Jones