Why the Netherlands Is a Red Herring in the Home Birth Debate

If anything, the experience of countries like the Netherlands shows why home birth in the United States should be presumed to be less safe. Dutch midwives are, first of all, much more qualified than U.S. home-birth midwives. Lay midwives preside over most planned home births in the United States. Their more highly trained counterparts, the certified nurse midwives (CNM), don’t usually attend home births. Lay midwives lose more babies than CNMs or doctors. Some home birth midwives in the United States have no formal training at all. Even the certified professional midwife credential (CPM) can be obtained by self-study, an apprenticeship, and a multiple-choice exam.  

As Block notes, in the Netherlands, home birth is seamlessly integrated into a universal health care system where midwives work closely with doctors. In the U.S. medical system, home birth midwives run the legal gamut from outsiders to outlaws, depending on state law.

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