Home birth in Hungary

by Réka Morvay on February 23, 2009

Home birth in Hungary is not illegal – it’s alegal. It is not regulated by Hungarian law, which leaves a really inconvenient gap for those who want to give birth at home.

Hungarian law says that a woman has the right to choose where to give birth, but the law makes no provisions for anybody who wants to assist a birthing woman outside a hospital setting. This means that medical personnel (doctors, nurses) who do it may get prosecuted for misusing their license and could lose their license, and non-medical personnel (independent midwives) may get prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license. So the danger of prosecution is really on the helpers, not on the birthing woman herself.

Peaceful birth at home

With that said, if you choose to give birth at home, you must prepare for the fact that the medical and bureaucratic establishment may be none too friendly to you. They are simply not set up to deal with this “irregular” occurrence, it complicates their jobs, and so they tend to be grumpy or even hostile about it. Getting your child registered and squaring away the paperwork will have additional steps. If you need medical care for any complications that arise during a home birth, you might get some unfriendly looks at the hospital and a good talking to.

Even so, there are women who choose to give birth outside a hospital setting. Sadly, there really are no birthing centers as such that are actually recognized by the Hungarian system. So it’s either hospital or home.

Home birth midwives also exist, but for obvious reasons do not advertise themselves. Some are doctors who would (and do) lose their license. Some are obstetrics nurses from hospitals. And some are independent midwives who were trained and licensed in assisting home births – just not in Hungary.

If you’re interested in giving birth at home in Hungary, you have to start asking questions relatively early on in your pregnancy to find a home birth midwife who will assist you because most of them will want to follow your pregnancy to make sure that you are a good candidate for a home birth with no complications. It also means that home birth midwives in Hungary tend to be more conservative in their practice than midwives in countries where they can expect cooperative medical backup, so they will for example rarely or never take on breech or twin deliveries.

For a healthy woman with an uncomplicated pregnancy who finds a home birth midwife relatively early on in her pregnancy (ideally by 20 weeks), giving birth at home in Hungary is possible.

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