Homebirths have increased by 300 percent in Iceland over the past ten years. According to the births registry, there were 25 homebirths in 2002 compared to 99 in 2012.
A new study by researchers at the New York-Presibyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center concludes that there is significant risk in planned homebirths. Based on data on more than 13 million births, the study is the largest of its kind.
Homebirth midwives Arndís Þórarinsdóttir and Hrafnhildur Halldórsdóttir told visir.is that the experience in the U.S. cannot be transferred to Iceland as the health system is different, the education of midwives is generally higher and collaboration with maternity departments good.
Arndís and Hrafnhildur argue that it is important that giving birth is not presented as a medical condition and that the women who choose to give birth at home to make informed decisions. “If we are concerned about something then we of course transfer the woman to the hospital and accompany her there,” Arndís commented.
Hrafnhildur, however, pointed out that giving birth at home is not recommended to all women. “It is important that those women who choose to give birth at home are healthy and have had a normal pregnancy,” Arndís said, adding that midwives have to fill certain requirements before they are issued a license from the Directorate of Health.