Rep. wrong on home births

To the editor:

I would like to counter the quote by Rep. Mathew Houde of Plainfield, made in an article on, in his argument about mandated insurance reimbursement for midwives attending home births.

“We just do not know the risk of home births,” he said. He testified against the midwives’ bill in the House floor debate, saying we lacked scientific evidence of the safety of birth in the home setting.

On the contrary, the New Hampshire midwives presented the House Commerce Committee (of which Representative Houde is a member) with a now famous documented study in the British Medical Journal showing that home births in North America are AS SAFE as hospital births for properly screened, low-risk women.

The study followed 5,418 women expecting to deliver in 2000 supported by midwives with a common certification and who planned to deliver at home when labor began. New Hampshire midwives participated in this study. The study’s conclusion was: “Planned home birth for low-risk women in North America using certified professional midwives was associated with lower rates of medical intervention but similar intrapartum and neonatal mortality to that of low-risk hospital births in the United States.”

The New Hampshire midwives gave each member of the commerce committee the abstract of this study in a hardcover binder. If the legislators chose to ignore it or not to read it, that’s their prerogative. But do not then stand in front of the entire House of Representatives claiming they “do not know the risk of home births” because, apparently, they were too “busy” to read our North American statistics compiled by two very famous epidemiologists. That’s just deliberate misrepresentation.

Carol Leonard
N.H. Certified Midwife

Categories: Cook on Concord