More home births during the COVID-19 pandemic in the Netherlands

Corine J.M. Verhoeven*, José Boer, Marjolein Kok, Marianne Nieuwenhuijze, Ank de Jonge, Lilian L. Peters

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: The aim of this observational study was to examine whether the course of pregnancy and birth and accompanying outcomes among low-risk pregnant women changed in the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the prepandemic period. Methods: We analyzed data from the Dutch Midwifery Case Registration System (VeCaS). Differences in the course of pregnancy and birth, and accompanying maternal and neonatal outcomes, were calculated between women pregnant during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic (March 1 to August 3, 2020) and the prepandemic period (March 1–August 3, 2019). We also conducted a stratified analysis by parity. Results: We included 5913 low-risk pregnant women of whom 2963 (50.1%) were pregnant during the first surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2950 (49.9%) in the prepandemic period. During the COVID-19 pandemic, more women desired and had a home birth. More women used pain medication and fewer had an episiotomy in the COVID-19 period than prior. Multiparous women had a higher suspected rate of fetal growth restriction during COVID; however, the actual rate of small for gestational age infants was not significantly increased. We observed no differences for onset and augmentation of labor or for mode of birth, though the rate of vaginal births increased. Conclusions: During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a higher rate of planned and actual home birth, and suspected growth restriction and a lower rate of episiotomy among low-risk pregnant women in the Netherlands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)792-804
Number of pages13
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

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