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Home Births Increase by 20%: Why?

By WendyM |

home birth statistics increase

Why has there been an increase in home births?

Home births have increased by 20 percent from 2004 to 2008, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of home births in 2008 was 28,357 of the 4.2 million total U.S. births, the study reports.

Why has there been such a big jump in the number of home births?

In some cases, cost is a definite factor, as the big bill associated with hospital deliveries isn’t affordable for everyone. Those without health insurance definitely feel the burn of a hospital tab.

Others cite the comfort of home and familiar surroundings as a peaceful beginning to their newborn’s life.

One expert weighs in on the demographics of home birthers. Robbie Davis-Floyd, a medical anthropologist at the University of Texas at Austin and researcher on global trends in childbirth, obstetrics and midwifery, said “at first, in the 1970s, it was largely a hippie, countercultural thing to give birth outside of the hospital. Over the years, as the formerly ‘lay’ midwives have become far more sophisticated, so has their clientele.”

Naturally, there are plenty opposed to home births, with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists warning that home births can be unsafe. Well, what else would you expect them to say?

Of course, if a mother is high risk, then a home birth may not be the best option, but otherwise, why not?

One OB-GYN who supports home birth, Dr. Joel Evans, commented that medical professionals have become “resistant to change, resistant to dialogue, resistant to flexibility.”

He notes that “Women are now looking for alternatives where they can be treated as individuals, as opposed to being forced to comply with protocols, which however well meaning, have the impact of both medicalizing childbirth and increasing stress and anxiety around delivery.”

My two children were both born in the hospital and I had two very different experiences, as one was delivered by my OB-GYN and the second was delivered by a midwife. The experience with the doctor felt rushed because she seemed almost bothered to be there, while the midwife really listened to our needs and was very supportive.

Personally, a home birth wasn’t even a consideration because my husband would have been too freaked out by it!

Women have options though, and if you aren’t facing any complications, you can certainly have a safe and peaceful home birth. It’s absolutely a personal decision.

Where did you have your baby/babies? Did you have a positive hospital delivery or home birth story to share? Did you have a negative experience?

More on Babble

About WendyM

wendym

WendyM

Wendy Michaels** has been an entertainment writer for many years, covering the celeb buzz for both TV Crunch and Movie Crunch blogs. She loves celebrity gossip on any level, from A-listers right down to those pesky reality stars. Wendy's passion for entertainment news is a strange addiction, but she wouldn't have it any other way. She lives in the Finger Lakes region of New York, where she enjoys time with her husband and two children.

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22 thoughts on “Home Births Increase by 20%: Why?

  1. Andrea says:

    My husband was definitely freaked out by the first home birth, but since I am a grown woman, and the one giving birth, he got to Suck It Up. All three of my home births were fabulous, amazing experiences. Zero interventions, zero pressures, zero stress. Just the natural process of labour and delivery (12 hours, 36 hours and 6 hours, respectively). I have no chronic health problems, I’m not obese and there were no risk factors for my deliveries, so obviously that makes a huge difference. I think women are turning to homebirths because hospital births have just become so insane. Every story I have heard of a hospital birth is a total nightmare compared to my homebirth experience. I’m also not keen on the idea of introducing newborn infants to narcotics (epidural), so I was pretty determined not to get into the clutches of an OBGYN. They love their babies on narcotics! I also didn’t particularly like the idea of being butchered to give birth. OBGYNs are surgeons, so naturally, the perform surgery. But not on me. No thanks. My homebirths were fantastic and I have no regrets whatsoever. I highly recommend them.

  2. Jame says:

    My husband is the youngest of three brothers, all of which were born at home (part of that hippie counter culture people talk about starting the home birth movement) & while in college I’d read “Pushed”, by Jennifer Block, & the more I researched & read other women’s experiences, the more terrified I become of the prospect of a hospital birth, for a variety of reasons-the impersonalization, the regulations, the high probability of surgery or other interventions that I felt for me would probably be unnecessary. My doctor’s partner in Vermont was a midwife, so when I turned up pregnant, I was lucky to have them there, as they only attended home births. Of course, I was young-21-& rather healthy & fit at the time, & all through my checkups were good, minus the fact that my midwives had to get on my case about eating enough green stuff! When it was time, the Squidgelet was born at home-I wrote about it on my blog, but the long & short of it was, it was about the easiest (relatively) most beautiful & peaceful way to do the work to bring him into the world. I wouldn’t have changed a thing!
    http://squidgeletboss.blogspot.com/2011/06/brightest-day.html

  3. lisaalessi says:

    Many existing laws and regulations apply specifically to pregnant women. Several provisions of the Affordable Care Act offer new benefits for expecting mothers. Search online for “Penny Health Insurance” if you need affordable insurance for yourself or your wife.

  4. Susan Jenkins says:

    The Affordable Care Act requires state Medicaid plans to cover all licensed midwives who provide services in birth centers, and will require the state insurance exchanges for buying low cost insurance that will be set up by 2014 to cover ALL state-licensed health professionals.
    The AMA is working to get this part of the law changed, so that patients will not have their choice of provider but will be limited to only physicians, further cementing it’s monopoly. Tell your Comgressperson’s and senators that you want to protect patient choice in the health insurance exchanges.

  5. Robyn says:

    OBGYN’s are not butchers nor do they love their babies on narcotics as Andrea commented. I am a L&D nurse and work at a fabulous, warm, caring hospital where hundreds of women give birth every month. No institution, doctor or nurse is perfect however I believe that the majority of women receive excellent, calm, and supportive care in a hospital setting. Certainly, if there are no risk factors I fully understand and support a woman’s right to choose to give birth at home. However, my personal choice is to put the needs of my baby above my own desire for the comforts of home and make sure he or she would be in the safest possible environment in the case that emergency care was needed. Even with the healthiest of mom’s and babies things can go awry putting both the mother and child at serious risk – a risk that I personally would not be willing to take.

  6. Blue says:

    Andrea–Wow, arrogant and one-sided much? To each their own, but some of us have had quite lovely hospital births, thank you. I’m really glad my OB was there to “butcher” me and get out my large-headed breech baby. And my recovery was actually quite easy.

    And not every homebirth is a lovely experience. Don’t assume that everyone is as fortunate as you.

  7. Mariah says:

    Both of my sons were born around 42 weeks, the first induced at a hospital (even though we’d planned a homebirth) and the second safely at home. I was low risk with both pregnancies and both labors/births went smoothly.

    With my first baby I feared that he would be too large to push out if I continued to gestate. I feared this primarily because a post-dates ultrasound technician implied I’d be seriously endangering my child if I waited a second later. So I induced the next day out of fear. Afterward I found out that her concerns weren’t evidence based and there was little reason to believe I needed to be induced. The induction was mostly unsuccessful and resulted in a 36 hour long labor; after my amniotic sack was artificially ruptured (not safe for baby) my labor sped up dramatically and the birth was a breeze after that. But the pitocin, epidural, catheter, IV fluids, foley bulb… I didn’t need any of it. I knew that at the time, but once you show up to the hospital you’re pretty much on their schedule and follow their policies. I still describe this labor/birth has having gone smoothly, despite the interventions, because I received the typical course of hospital interventions and was able to birth vaginally. Nearly everyone I’ve known who had a hospital birth was given pitocin and the corresponding interventions, even though the vast majority had normal labors and births. These interventions were unneeded, but it’s par for the course during a hospital birth.

    My first son was 9lbs 12oz and once I dilated (harder to do at the hospital, due to lack of privacy) I pushed him out quickly and easily; my second son was even larger and quicker. The homebirth experience the second time around was more enjoyable in every way and I had a much lower level of anxiety in my own home.

    We live about 5-10 minutes from several different hospitals and my midwife is a CNM who has attended over 1000 births, so I felt like I was in a safe environment. My midwifery team also showed up with a ton of medical gear, something that is often overlooked when discussing homebirth, and they would have known to transfer me early in labor if they detected fetal or maternal distress. After my home birth I was bleeding more than average, so my midwives gave me a couple of different drugs and monitored me for the rest of the day until the bleeding returned to normal. It would have been the same at the hospital, except the postpartum pitocin would have been given via heplock instead of a shot. The types of unexpected situations that may occur during a home birth are likely to be handled in a similar way in a hospital; true “emergency C-sections” are relatively rare and a midwifery team is able to quickly transfer as needed.

    Planed homebirth for low risk women is a safe option and should be covered under medical insurance. The C-section and maternal mortality rates would be lower and the infant mortality rate would likely be the same. Breastfeeding rates would probably be higher, as interventions during labor and birth can disrupt the breastfeeding process. Labors themselves could potentially be shorter, with fewer failed inductions. It’s a reasonable choice for informed families.

  8. Melanie says:

    I had a wonderful experience at mg hospital. The nurses and doctors were very calm and supportive and I felt like they were listening to my wishes. The health of my daughter was of utmost importance to me but I do believe every woman has the right to choose homebirth/hospital/birthing center. Every experience is diffetent so i don’t think there is one 100% correct answer. We need to all be more supportive of each other and our rights as mothers and women!

  9. Nay says:

    With the hospitals I’ve dealt with… I am SO going to a birth center. I want to avoid having any drugs if possible, because I spent three and a half years in medical hell due to a spiral of drug reactions (severe migraines were just the beginning. Toxic epidermal necrolysis is NOT fun, even when it’s caught early.) The mere thought of giving birth in a hospital terrifies me (is it a phobia if it is justified through experience?) Even if there were no other complications, my terror hormones wouldn’t help my baby. If I end up as high risk, then of course I’ll go to a hospital – but as a last resort, and as a decision made in the last month.

  10. Emma says:

    I had two hospital births, first with an OB, second with a midwife, and my third baby was born at home. I wish my first two would’ve been born at home, too.
    Home birth isn’t for everyone, and neither is hospital birth. Educate yourself and weigh your benefit/risk factor. Babies die in hospitals, babies die at home. The only difference is that at home, you have to be willing to shoulder a lot of responsibility yourself.

  11. andrea says:

    i had two beautiful homebirths. one attended by a wonderful and loving midwife. one attended by just my son and husband. i never had a desire to birth in a hospital and while my husband was freaked out by my first birth, he was an ardent supporter of my right to birth on my own terms and with my own choices. he put his big boy panties on and caught both of our children as they were born. we both know birth happens best when it is not messed with through interventions. BTW, both times i would have been considered “high risk” as i was 36 and 41 at my births.

  12. Beth says:

    This is what I love about midwifery and choice. EVERYONE has the right to choose what is best for their family and all of the arguments are valid. I think that the article is not intended to prove one over the other but that it is a legitimate option and it should be. I am a midwife and have respect for the natural process ultimately but also the respect for the need of intervention WHEN it is necessary. Just reading the few comments here is proof that people are immensely passionate about birth as it is the single most important act of most woman and their partners. It should be that important for this community, system, country to ensure that all births are in their correct environment and it surely would help secure that foundational bonding period that so many have lacked due to unnecessary intervention and lack of options.

  13. Stephanie says:

    It is hard for me to believe that there are women in this world of today who say things like, “Personally, a home birth wasn’t even a consideration because my husband would have been too freaked out by it!”

    Who is having the baby? Who are you giving your power away to? Why are you letting someone else’s feelings or opinions determine what you do with your body and baby?

    I teach birthing classes and hear this excuse all the time. Honestly, I do not get it. Take back your power, women! You are a powerful divine feminine co-creator on this planet and you will never realize your power until you take it back and stand in it. It is your body and your baby. Home birth outcomes are much better than hospital births. Do your research. Show it to your husbands. Then, do what YOU want.

  14. Kara Savvas says:

    I was fortunate to have a healthy, absolutely normal pregnancy and live in a place with lots of talented and wise midwives, and have the option of a home birth. I attend a few births before having my own child, both in hospital and at home. I made my choices based on what I saw at a variety of hospitals in our area, and the introduction I had to midwifery care. I had my baby at home with a midwife who I liked and trusted, but also had excellent statistics supporting her practice, which were better than most, but similar to some, ob-GYNs I checked out, and made me feel incredibly well educated, cared for, and prepared for birth and parenting in those first few months. I was educated in the finer points of the body mechanics of birth, my general health as a mother, nutrition, fitness, cleanliness and preparing my body, mind and home for birth, choices, and real risks I faced so that I could participate fully in ensuring the safety and satisfaction of the process. The support I had was incredible, both prenatally and post pardum. Home Care was available to me for weeks after should I call, and I was visited everyother day for a seven days after the birth. It was most important to me that the person giving me my prenatal care was absolutely going to be at my birth. I didn’t want to be offered any drugs whatsoever, because I hate being under the influence of narcotics, personally.I didn’t even want to have to talk about it while in labor. I had had an epidural with a previous surgery, but after my research didn’t feel it was an appropriate choice for me for childbirth – I wanted to be able to move and walk and squat to push, which turned out to be instrumental in my delivery. I needed a little more space, that squatting provides. I didn’t wanted to be treated as a potential emergency, I wanted to be treated as the healthy woman doing what my body knows how to do, and I was. I wanted all the same people at my birth from beginning to end, and not very many. I didn’t want my newborn to receive any vaccinations on that day. I didn’t want my baby to be separated from me for even an hour for an exam, when it could be done on the bed next to me. Everything I needed medically was there. I had a very long labor, and it was hard, but I was so glad to be at home because at the hospital I would have been on someone else’s schedule, most likely. I can never know, but I feel that I likely avoided a C-section by being at home, not one that I needed (obviously) but one that would have been done to protect someone else from liability. Just in case.I was with someone who I trusted to know normal from not normal, and would protect my desires to labor as I wished, as long as I fell within her vast and complete understanding of healthy labor. I chose an older, experienced midwife (40 years of practice) for this reason. I was incredibly happy at home, to just cuddle my family in our bed, which the midwife and her assistants made with fresh sheets after the birth, and cleaned the house of all signs of birthing, and not have to go anywhere for the next two weeks!I cannot imagine having a similar experience in a hospital. These were the choices I made, based on my research, direct experience, personal desires, and what was available to me, and I consider myself a very fortunate person to have experienced birth the way I did. I hope all women have choices. We should all have the support and environment we choose in childbirth, no matter what that is.

  15. Samantha McCormick, CNM says:

    What many people don’t understand is that many families who choose out of hospital birth are choosing what they feel is SAFER for THEIR baby. It is not about the warm fuzzy of being at home or how empowering it is (although those are nice side benefits). They are concerned about exposing their babies to medications and being separated from their babies and want to establish a breastfeeding relationship without pressure from hospital staff. Some may believe that parents who choose out of hospital birth are not considering what is safest for their baby, but if you talk to some of them, you would find out that their baby’s safety is paramount in their decision.

  16. Canuckmom says:

    Ummm, Stephanie, it is not MY baby it is OUR baby. My husband has every right to his opinion on the birth.

  17. Sondra Stinson says:

    I love this!! I am already planning a home birth for our next child (who won’t even be tried for, for at least 2 more years! LOL) my 2 hospital births were HORRIBLE experiences that I REFUSE to have another. My son was an emergency c-section due to breech presentation, they didn’t try to turn him, or ask if I wanted to attempt a vaginal delivery. It was he’s breech, you have to go into the OR. Now. I felt stripped of my rights as a mother. We were away from each other for over an hour while I was in recovery, so the bond wasn’t there, and breastfeeding was HORRIBLE, I gave up after 4 months because he just never got the hang of it :( .
    My daughter was a successful VBAC, but because I had a new, young nurse (I assume she had never been at a VBAC delivery), I wasn’t allowed to do ANYTHING to ease the pain (I went med-free!). I wanted to get up and walk around, wasn’t allowed, had to keep the monitors on at all times. I was yelled at constantly for laying in the wrong position, even though I was comfortable and baby was fine. I wanted to deliver on all 4′s, wasn’t allowed. I had to deliver on my back, and ended up having really bad tearing from it. The nurse made very unprofessional comments about my bowel movements on the table, and snapped at me when I peed on her (She was sitting between my legs, on the bed, with her fingers in me, and told me to push, after I told her I wasn’t planning on pushing until I felt the need…isn’t it kind of expected?!) I asked to not have an IV of saline, but was told I have to in case I needed an emergency c-section again (just setting me up for failure?!)…I could go on.

    I wanted a home birth for my second child, but my husband wasn’t comfortable with it so we opted for a hospital birth. After that experience though, I think he’s actually kind of excited about the idea of catching his baby!

  18. Sondra Stinson says:

    Oh, and Stephanie, marriage isn’t just about one person or the other. It’s about BOTH parties and BOTH of their needs need to be met or it turns into a horrible one-sided mess and nobody is happy. I don’t know about your marriage, but MOST people generally compromise when they don’t agree on something. Yes, it’s the woman’s body, but it’s both parties’ baby. Both should have a say when it comes to how the baby is brought into the world. If you don’t get it, maybe you should try listening to your husband for once, instead of telling him what to think.

  19. Danijela says:

    I had both my daughters at home with a midwife. First daughter came 3.5 weeks early. Labor began when my water broke at 11:15pm and I delivered at 3:18am. I felt like wonder woman! The next day was my shower — who would have thought that I would be bringing my baby to her very own shower! Amazing, amazing experience and that’s why I did it again. Second time around, I ended up with a beautiful 9lb1oz baby girl. Labor began after my water broke at 10:30 and I delivered at 2:51am. I love my midwife and would not trust my body or my babies to any other person. Midwives show compassion and feeling towards women. There is nothing like a woman’s touch!

  20. Amy Tuteur, MD says:

    The more interesting question is whether the homebirth rate is really rising. Sure, the rate rose from 2004-2008, but the overall trend is that homebirth rates have been dropping like a rock and homebirth continues to be merely a fringe practice.

    year homebirths
    1940 less than 50%
    1950 22%
    1960 3%
    1990 0.67%
    2000 0.59%
    2004 0.56%
    2006 0.59%
    2008 0.67%

  21. heather says:

    I had a Drs appt on the 31st and I was 36 wks ! when I went in to the Dr they checked me and I was dialated to a 4 and effaced 70% ! so Since some woman would walk arould like that for days and weeks he decided to track my contractions for an Hr to see if there were any . Well there was Nothing so He sent me home on bed rest !!!!

    Well I went home and passed out until 5 ish and was bsing talking to ppl yada yada ! at 6 pm iI was talking to one of my Bf’s on the phone and was feeling Kinda Achey But not bad ( I have WAY worse Menstral Cramps ) so I called my Husband to tell Him to come hm cuz I wasnt feeling right ! So he got hm about 6:30 ish He Jumped in the shower while I called the Drs Nurse Line to see what I should Do ! well i was on hold for 20 min needless to say I layed down for 2 min and had to “Pee” right when I sat down to go Pee there was a “POP ” like a water Ballon had popped ! “Honey my water Just broke ” next thing I said Still on hold with the Drs Line I felt Crazy Pressure and sure enough I felt His Head and my Husband saw the Head so finally 20 ish min later the nurse line answered and By that time I was begging to get in the Bath tub so hubby started filling it up with water and I jumped in !! with the emts on there way he had to go unlock the door he took like 7 steps away from the bath room to unlock the door and by then I was already pushing Gabriels Head out and pulling him outta the water !!! he ran back in to help finsh getting him out and on my cheast and wrapped in a towel !! The Emts showed up 10 min later cut the cord and took us to the hospital ! got us a lil lost and finally got there when it should have been 10 min drive max it was 40 min !! So needless to say my lil angle was born 4 wks early at our apartment and he was 6 lbs 19 inchs :) breathing perfectly and so far no issues for being early !!!!!! thank god :) And Mommy and Daddy are sooo In Love with Him :) thats our story

  22. Megan says:

    I have always been unsure about my feelings towards home births. I feel as though midwives are overpriced and the actual birth is not as safe as it would be at a hospital, but the more I’ve been reading the less I feel like I know. According to this article, having your baby at home not only provided the author with a special experience with her and her baby, but actually can save you costs? 

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