BALTIMORE (October 6, 2011) - A Joint Statement on Planned Home Births was issued today by multiple Maryland-based health organizations in response to reports of adverse pregnancy outcomes resulting from planned home childbirths.
The Joint Statement on Planned Home Births is endorsed by the Maryland Board of Nursing (MBON), the Maryland Association of County Health Officers (MACHO), the Maryland Affiliate of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM), and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH).
In Maryland, over 99 percent of all births occur in a hospital or birthing center. For the less than 1 percent of births that occur at home, precautions should be taken to assure a safe and healthy outcome for both mother and baby.
To assure the quality and safety of medical care, all physicians practicing in the State must be licensed by the Maryland Board of Physicians and all midwives must be licensed and certified by the Maryland Board of Nursing. There are several different types of midwives, but only certified nurse-midwives are licensed to practice in the State of Maryland.
"All women who are considering a planned home birth should first carefully weigh and discuss these issues with their licensed physician or nurse midwife before making a decision. For quality and safety reasons, Maryland does not permit the unlicensed practice of nurse midwifery," said Nancy D. Adams, RN, President of the Maryland Board of Nursing.
Every pregnant woman considering home birth must be carefully screened by a licensed physician or licensed certified nurse-midwife for chronic or pregnancy-related problems which could present risks during a home birth. If no risk factors are found and home birth is chosen, the birth should be attended by a licensed physician or a certified nurse-midwife with ready access to obstetric consultation and timely transport to a hospital if needed.
"Home birth is an available option for mothers who are appropriate candidates," said Erin Wright, CNM, MS, President of the Maryland Affiliate of the American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM). "ACNM recognizes that home birth has excellent outcomes for mothers and babies when guidelines regarding risk factors are followed and when attended by a licensed and qualified birth attendant."
"It is important for women to have different options for the birth of their child; however, if the proper checks, balances and safety systems are not in place, it could lead to preventable injuries in mothers and/or babies," said Lawrence Fogelson, MD, a St. Joseph Hospital physician and Medical Director of Women's Health Associates, a physician and midwifery practice. "Maryland laws are intended to protect the public by helping to ensure that standards of care are adhered to by health care providers."
"In order to have the safest possible home birth, a mother must have individualized screening and choose a qualified, licensed provider. It is also critical to have immediate access to hospital care if problems arise," said Frances Phillips, RN, DHMH Deputy Secretary for Public Health.
"The Maryland Association of County Health Officers (MACHO) supports this advisory to assure the health and safety of mothers and newborns," said Ulder Tillman, MD, President of MACHO and Health Officer in Montgomery County.
Consumers can verify the licensure status of physicians at www.mbp.state.md.us/bpqapp and certified nurse midwives at www.mbon.org/main.php under "Look Up a Licensee."
The Joint Statement on Planned Home Births is available at http://fha.maryland.gov/mch/home-births.cfm.