Births possible, but poorly supervised. A 37-year-old woman and her unborn child died on Friday, November 17 in Ille-et-Vilaine, while the future mother had chosen to give birth at her home, according to a double autopsy carried out this Monday. What rules govern home births in France?
A legal practice…
In France, a pregnant woman is perfectly free to give birth at home if she wishes, without any law prohibiting this practice. “Women are free to choose where and with whom they want to give birth,” recalls the Professional Association for Accompanied Childbirth at Home (Apaad) on its site.
“(Home birth) is legal, reimbursed by Social Security and by certain mutual insurance companies,” the association specifies.
Since the Kouchner law, passed in 2002, all healthcare professionals must purchase professional liability insurance. But its enormous cost remains very difficult for private midwives to access and many are therefore uninsured.
However, currently few mothers give birth outside the hospital. According to a large INSEE study carried out between 1980 and 2016, between 0.5% and 1.9% of births occur outside hospitals, the majority of which are medically assisted.
Apaad, for its part, indicates that 1,439 women began prenatal monitoring in 2022 with a liberal midwife from the association to give birth at home, 83% of whom actually gave birth at home, the rest had to abandon for reasons of health. .
Midwives who can perform home births are also few, fewer than 100 according to Apaad, insufficient to meet needs.
Discouraged by authorities
However, health authorities do not encourage this type of birth. The cause is the risk of mortality, which is higher during complications of home births than in hospital births.
In fact, to give birth at home, a pregnant woman must be in perfect health and have no major risk factors. Doctors and medical associations also recommend that expectant mothers give birth within 30 to 45 minutes of a maternity ward, in case complications arise.
For the vice president of the National College of Obstetricians-Gynecologists of France, Alexandra Benachi, speaking to BFMTV, home births run the risk of “delaying” the “treatment of hemorrhages, for example, or infections.”
“We will have to transport the woman and the newborn to a maternity ward. In these cases, we know that delay in treatment is an important element of morbidity and mortality,” he warns.
The desire for a less medicalized environment
However, some women continue to make this decision, explaining that they prefer to give birth in a family environment, at this important time. Sarah, a mother who gave birth at home twice, explains to BFMTV that she prefers to “limit medical interventions.”
“I don’t understand why we have to go to hospitals for something natural. It’s not a disease,” he argues.
On social media, there are videos promoting home birth, some of which get several hundred thousand views. We see young women giving advice to pregnant women on how to give birth at home. But be careful, these Internet users do not always have medical training and can encourage risky practices.
Source: BFM TV