Home birth is childbirth that takes place in the mother's home as the result of the mother's advance planning and personal choice, rather than in the delivery room of a recognized hospital.
- Israeli law permits home births, but it does forbid the operation of a facility for home births that is not a medical institution. Only doctors and midwives are permitted to engage in home births professionally.
- A woman is entitled to have a home birth with no professional help, but is she does receive professional help, the professional is bound to the regulations that the Ministry of Health gives for home births.
- The Ministry of Health recommends that women who have undergone a home birth come with their newborn infant for an examination in the hospital within the first 24 hours after birth.
Who is Eligible?
- As a general rule, every woman has the right and freedom to choose where she gives birth
- If a woman intends to have professional help during her home birth the professional is bound to certain regulations. A home birth with professional assistance can be planned ahead of time only if all of the following conditions are met:
- Single pregnancy with cephalic (head) presentation.
- Birth in weeks 37-41 of the pregnancy.
- If the pregnancy length is more than 40 weeks and 6 days, it must be ensured at least 3 days before the birth that the biophysical profile is proper.
- The estimated fetal weight is 2.5-4 kg.
- The expectant mother has provided an accurate health declaration.
- If the midwife is concerned about the mother's medical fitness to undergo a home birth, she must request approval from the attending physician.
- If the mother has a chronic illness or disability that could impact the birthing process/the newborn, or an active infectious disease, approval from the attending physician is always required.
- The mother is at least 18 years old. If the mother is between 17 and 18 years old, signed parental consent is required. If the mother is younger than 17 years old, she may not have a home birth.
- There is written documentation of the mother's medical history, (including that which is related to pregnancy and childbirth).
- There is documented monitoring/follow-up of the current pregnancy from a doctor and midwife in accordance with Ministry of Health guidelines.
- An ultrasound scan (anomaly scan) has been performed and documented.
- It has been determined that diabetes is not a factor and there is documentation to this effect.
- There are certain pregnancies which the Ministry of Health, forbids professionals from assisting with home births, even if they meet all of the conditions listed here. For more information see Health Management Circular Ministry of Health on the topic of Home Births.
How to Claim It? - Home Birth with Professional Assistance
- Contact a midwife or specialty doctor authorized to perform home births.
- Written informed consent from the expectant mother must be given on a special Home Birth Request and Consent Form, after the attending midwife or doctor has provided a detailed explanation including at least all of the information appearing on the form.
- The midwife or doctor must instruct the expectant mother in advance regarding signs of active labor.
- The midwife or doctor must go to the the expectant mother within an hour of signs of active labor appearing.
- After the birth, the midwife or doctor must examine the newborn.
- The midwife or doctor must closely observe for two hours following the birth.
- The midwife or doctor must visit the mother the day after the birth.
- The midwife or doctor must provide their contact details to the mother.
- Following a birth without any complications, the mother must be informed that the newborn must be examined by a pediatrician within a day of the birth. The mother should be encouraged to go to a hospital within 24 hours of the birth so that she may be examined, and so that the newborn may be examined and properly registered.
- If there are any irregularities related to the birthing process, the mother must be taken to a hospital.
Required Environmental Conditions for a Home Birth with Professional Assistance
- It must be ensured in advance that the home is suitable for a home birth: It has hot running water, electricity, heating, a telephone, and is clean.
- It must be ensured that the room where the birth will take place is at least 10 square meters.
- It must be ensured that the place of the home birth is not far from a hospital with a delivery room, and that it would not take more than 30 minutes to reach the hospital from the moment such a decision is made.
Authorization to Perform Home Births
- The only people authorized to perform home births are:
- Midwives registered in the official Israel midwife registry with at least three years of experience working in a recognized delivery room, who have experience in at least 10 home births where an experienced home birth midwife was present.
- Doctors specializing in obstetrics and gynecology who are licensed and have specialty certification in Israel, who currently or previously engaged in obstetrics in a recognized delivery room in Israel for at least three years.
Eligibility for the Maternity Grant
- Up until 01.06.2017, only women who gave birth in a hospital or women who gave birth at home and were admitted to a hospital within 24 hours of giving birth, were entitled to the maternity grant from the National Insurance Institute.
- Beginning 01.06.2017 women who give birth without hospitalization are also eligible for the maternity grant.
- In order to the claim the maternity grant right, a declaration by the mid-wife or confirmation by the doctor present stating that the home birth was done in accordance to the regulations of the Health Management Circular, should be submitted to the National Insurance Institute.
- At any stage during the birthing process, the mother may ask to be transported to a hospital, and the attending physician or midwife must respect such a request.
- According to the Ministry of Health, the optimal conditions for a safe birth are in the delivery room of a recognized and licensed hospital.
- In general, the National Insurance Institute does not cover the costs of a home birth.
Laws and Regulations
- Ministry of Health Medical Administration Circular 17/2012 from 24.05.2012 - Home births
- The Midwives Ordinance (on the Nevo website)
- The Physicians Ordinance (New Version), 5737-1976 (on the Nevo website)
- National Insurance Law Amendment 191 - 2017
- National Insurance Institute Circular No. 1458 from 24.05.2017 - Payment of Maternity Grants in Home Births
- Original information provided by the IMA.
- English translation and maintenance by The Shira Pransky Project.