November 2, 2011 - Nine statements of common ground around home birth and other controversies in maternity care were released today by a group of 68 national and international experts who participated in the historic Home Birth Consensus Summit in Warrenton, Virginia, October 20-22.
Although many of the participants represented stakeholders who have long been on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to the practice of delivering at home or in a freestanding birth center, the group was able to reach agreement on core sets of principles and to forge a shared commitment to quality maternity care for women and their babies in all birth settings.
"When you have an issue as controversial as home birth, there are always going to be differences of opinion among various types of providers, policymakers and even among consumers," said Professor Saraswathi Vedam, Chair of the Home Birth Consensus Summit Steering Committee. "But all of us recognize that for women who choose home birth, it's our shared responsibility to work toward policies that will make that choice as safe as possible."
In addition to practitioners and consumers, Summit participants included insurers, attorneys, ethicists, administrators, policymakers, and researchers with expertise in epidemiology, public health, midwifery, obstetrics, pediatrics, nursing, sociology, medical anthropology, legal, and health policy research.
The diversity of experience and expertise among the participants was reflected in the nine statements released today, which coalesced around issues such as respecting women's decision-making during childbirth, regardless of their choice of birth setting, increasing collaboration and integration of care among all maternity care providers across all settings, and addressing the racial and economic inequities in our maternity care system.
The full text of each statement, along with the recommended action steps to begin implementing them, can be found here.