Home births on the rise in U.S.
January 26th, 2012
01:50 PM ET

Home births on the rise in U.S.

Between 1990 and 2004, the number of women who were choosing to give birth at home steadily declined. But in 2005 the trend turned, according to a new report released by the National Center for Health Statistics on Thursday.

The number of home births in the U.S. jumped by 29% from 2004 to 2009. Although home births are still rare - they account for less than 1% of all births - this is a pretty rapid increase, said Marian MacDorman, statistician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Forty, 50 years ago, there was this idea that hospital birth was more modern. Now it's the opposite."

The biggest increase was in non-Hispanic white women. About 1 in 90 births in that segment of the population is now a home birth, according to the report. Home births are most common among women over the age of 35 who have already had at least one child.

The data doesn't tell us why home births have increased, MacDorman said, but she can take a few educated guesses. Cost may be an issue; on average, home births cost about one third less than hospital births. Another reason may be dissatisfaction with the care women in labor receive at a hospital. Doctors and nurses are busy, often caring for more than one patient at a time whereas at home, a woman can have a midwife attending only to her.

Home births are all about personal choice, said Eileen Beard, senior practice advisor for the American College of Nurse-Midwives. Beard has been a midwife since 1977 and has attended the births of thousands of babies.

"It's 'attended,' not delivered," she said. "The mother is the one who delivers. We just catch."

Beard said women are becoming more aware that they have a choice when it comes to having their baby. Mothers often choose to deliver at home because they embrace the idea that giving birth is a normal, physiological process.

"It's difficult to have a normal birth in the hospital setting because of the culture of the hospital and interventions that are routine," Beard said.

At home a woman is free to surround herself with the items and people she loves. She's able to move around and get into a birthing position that's comfortable. While this is possible at a hospital, procedures and routine make it more complicated. Feeling safe and relaxed leads to less need for medication, Beard said.

"The more control you have over what's happening makes a big difference."

Safety is always the number one concern. Home births have a lower risk profile than hospital births, with fewer babies born premature, fewer teen mothers and fewer multiple births, according to the report. That's because midwives do such a good job of choosing candidates, according to MacDorman.

Beard said certified midwives have guidelines and protocols they follow. Mothers should be healthy with no major medical problems or obstetrical complications. And if there's a problem during delivery, they don't hesitate to take the mother to a hospital.

soundoff (381 Responses)
  1. cew

    Oooohhh... can't wait to see all the comments about those "irresponsible women" who are risking their babies lives. Sigh...

    January 26, 2012 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Valentijn

      They are taking quite a risk. I live in the Netherlands, which has excellent health care, but many low-risk deliveries are done at home. The problem is that things go wrong, and it takes too long to get a doctor, and a very healthy country ends up with high infant mortality rates compared to other developed nations.

      January 26, 2012 at 14:52 | Report abuse |
    • cew

      It's really not that simple .... the recent study had some significant flaws. Previous to that study, the infant mortality rate was not higher for home births in Holland (despite nearly 30% of the population birthing at home). But it's not typical for anyone in Holland to screen for Group B Strep or Gestational diabetes (regardless of location or provider). There are also problems with the study – it looked at only a small part of the country, and the fact that the poor areas of the city had 2-3x higher mortality rates skewed the results. The study even showed that doctors/hospitals took greater risks than elsewhere, as did midwives who should have transferred sooner. Studies that look at healthy women birthing full-term babies, have consistently found that the mortality rates are roughly the same in the hospital and out of it.

      January 26, 2012 at 15:10 | Report abuse |
    • elle

      @ Valentijn the us infant mortality rate is 6.5 per 1000 and the Netherlands one is 3.5.

      January 26, 2012 at 18:44 | Report abuse |
    • photoman1

      @elle, so the Us has almost twice the infant mortality rate than the Netherlands. Hmmm.....that doesn't sound very good.

      January 26, 2012 at 20:50 | Report abuse |
    • Lucy from Mpls.

      Folks – delivering a baby at home is FOOLISH! Obviously, one's home is not equipped to "bag" a child born not breathing or to do emergency c-sections as needed. Basically, things that are out of one's control can happen. Why would someone chance it for an "experience?" FOOLISH as hell. My dad is a neonatologist and he is the end recipient of many babies born from "home births," and he has seen the impact – kids getting brain damaged b/c they had no air/oxygen and lost precious time being rushed to a hospital when the home birth caretakers realized baby was not ok. I just don't get it. You have to be severely uneducated to put your baby at risk (and yourself as a mother) like that. Stupidity, it's pure stupidity!

      January 26, 2012 at 21:04 | Report abuse |
    • wendyreames

      I wouldn't call these women irresponsible, because they ARE responsible for their own lives and their babies'. Despite all the modern technology such as ultrasounds and unbeknownst to my OB/GYN, my son had a congenital heart defect. If he had been born at home, he probably wouldn't have died, but would have been brain damaged by the time we could get him the specialized help he needed. I don't find hospitals to be scary, noisy (!?! as someone wrote), or really that impersonal. We had very caring doctors and nurses, even the helicopter pilot that flew him to have his open heart surgery (at 12 hrs old). The staff made sure we got a picture of him, made and signed a card with his pic, prayed for us, and got me cleaned up and ready to head out the door 8 hrs after giving birth so we could drive to the children's hosp. There will be people that rub you the wrong way (esp if you are in labor pain!) no matter where you are so there's not reason to vilify one side or the other.

      January 26, 2012 at 21:19 | Report abuse |
    • wendyreames

      I'm taking somewhat of a guess here, but the european countries tend to have higher abortion rates and I think the women there are more likely to abort if the child has severe medical probs will die soon after birth. This may explain some of the death rate difference.

      January 26, 2012 at 21:29 | Report abuse |
    • Nellage

      Obviously you have not seen a baby die in minutes due to some unforeseen complication that could have been prevented if it happens in a hospital setting .. oh, and just one more thing: sometimes the mother dies as well. have you ever wondered why death due to childbirth and infant mortality is lower in countries where birth happens in hospitals?

      January 26, 2012 at 21:42 | Report abuse |
    • cew

      No, I haven't seen a baby die in minutes due to an complication. But have you seen a baby die due to a hospital-born MSRA infection? It happens. There are risks NO MATTER WHERE you give birth.

      January 26, 2012 at 22:12 | Report abuse |
    • cew

      Infant mortality is lower because of a whole lot of reasons, and not just hospitals. You cannot compare a 3rd world country to a place like the US or Europe, where home births are attended by trained professionals who carry some emergency equipment and can transfer you to the hospital if it's needed. Those 3rd world countries just don't have hospitals to go to should the need arise.

      January 26, 2012 at 22:14 | Report abuse |
    • MJ

      I love liberals, so predictable. God forbid these "foolish" mothers put children at risk, unless of course they want to outright kill them in the womb, thats just fine.

      January 26, 2012 at 22:31 | Report abuse |
    • Karolyn

      Lucy, most women who homebirth today are educated, more so than your average person. I am a labor and delivery nurse and my husband is a MD (internist). We chose to homebirth, as have many of our professional friends. We researched, prayed, and carefully and intelligently made our decision. Rarely do home births end up as you are describing. I questioned one of our neonatologists about homebirth. He gave a very firm "No way!" but admitted he had never known personally of a case where the outcome was bad. He finally admitted that for him, it was just scary to do something at home so opposed to his training.

      January 26, 2012 at 22:57 | Report abuse |
    • ldr nurse

      pregnancy, labor and childbirth are human things and not medical things. Women have been giving birth in fields, or on their own or with the assistance of midwives forever. It is by having women enter the medicalized model of labor and delivery that most of the problems arise. Women must make knowledgeable choices for their own health and that of their baby's. Educate yourselves and your partners. Know and trust your bodies. Breathe! When you go to the hospital too early, that only increases the odds of interventions. I do not think that home birth is for everybody and I do not think that a hospital birth is necessarily the best option. I do know that labor is labor. It is not easy, nor should it be expected to be. As a nurse I feel most honored to be there when a family is born. It is the very best place to be. Until it isn't. Stuff happens.

      January 26, 2012 at 23:07 | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Serious complications arose during my son's delivery. Without the O.R. available for an emergency C-section I would now be a childless widower. Thankfully we have well trained professionals available at a moments notice in modern hospitals, they saved my family.

      January 26, 2012 at 23:08 | Report abuse |
    • Canuckistan2

      My wife and I had all 3 of our babies born at home in the tub with amazing midwives. Our midwife has caught over 2,000 babies and I am pretty sure she knows what she is doing. In the same span, we have had several friends experience horific hospital births with infections, rude treatment and sick babies. The hospital is just a factory to make money off of a natural wonderful experience that has been going on since the begining of time. Our birthe were truly magical with candles, music and a wonderful calmness. The midwifes listened to my wife nd let her birth they way it feltnthe most natural each time. I was there and it was amazing. I love how people all say the same thing..it is such a risk. What a crock..these midwives are all nurses and in the 2,000 babies ours "caught" there was onky one emergency which is way below the hospital percentages. I think it is due to the relaxed atmosphere for the mother and baby. Midwifes and now covered in Alberta and they demand has skyrocketed. It has taken pressure of of the hospitals to do what they are here for..to help sick or injured people. When we first went to an OBGYN we waited in the waiting room and he spent 5 minutes with my wife. When we went to the midwife we spent 5 minutes waiting and she spent 1 hour with my wife. After the birth they would come every day for 1 week to check on mommy and baby, making sure they are nursing well etc. Then 4 times the next week and so on. All babies were born at home until the Drs realied they cou.d make $$$ on it. They have demonized it as quackery..remember these are the same people that said breastfeeding was bad, smoking was good. I applaud all of the informed people that re taking this back and returning it to the natural, wonderful experience it is!

      January 26, 2012 at 23:09 | Report abuse |
    • bob

      I'm a volunteer EMT. We're about 5-10 minutes away from most homes in our service area. If your wife or baby is in serious trouble do you REALLY want to wait that 5-10 minute? This is gambling.

      January 26, 2012 at 23:56 | Report abuse |
    • Valentijn

      Sorry, I should have been more clear. When I said Dutch infant mortality is higher than in many developed nations, I was referring to developed nations where health care is universally accessible. The Netherlands has one of the highest infant mortality rates in Europe, with twice as many infants dying as in other countries. The benchmark is not to do better than the US (an easy feat in any matter involving healthcare), but rather to do as well as possible. The primary difference between the Netherlands and the countries with a much lower infant mortality rate is that many Dutch women still have home births, even when they are not close enough to a hospital to get timely emergency care when needed.

      January 27, 2012 at 02:00 | Report abuse |
    • Kabra

      Lucy, you are so wrong. If you do actual research, countries with lower infant and maternal mortality and morbidity rates are those with safer birth practices and high home and birth center birth rates. The US is abysmal, close in rates to many third world countries and so many women are damaged during birth in this country. It is actually FOOLISH to blindly make any decision.

      January 27, 2012 at 14:27 | Report abuse |
    • cew

      MJ, this isn't about politics. I'm about as liberal as they come, and had a home birth, and would do it again if I wanted more children (I don't). I support the right of a woman to choose where to give birth. My midwives were also on the liberal end of the spectrum (and one of them pointed out that they had saved the healthcare system over $1M, since home birth is so much less expensive). On the other hand, I've known some extremely conservative home-school, home-birth, very religious families who were also pro-homebirth.

      January 29, 2012 at 10:12 | Report abuse |
  2. nocompulsoryvaccination

    Reblogged this on No Compulsory Vaccination and commented:
    I love this! If homebirths can be on the increase in the US-home of BigPharma says 'everybody must do drugs', then there is hope for the world. There are many good quotes in this article, but this is the one I like the most. Remember this the next time someone tells you how risky homebirths are:

    "Safety is always the number one concern. Home births have a lower risk profile than hospital births, with fewer babies born premature, fewer teen mothers and fewer multiple births, according to the report. That's because midwives do such a good job of choosing candidates, according to MacDorman"

    January 26, 2012 at 14:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • IgM

      You are taking that quote out of context. The point is that women who do home births are much healthier to begin with, and have low risk pregnancies. What would be more telling is if you compared these women to similar women who give birth in the hospital. Then compare the complication rates among their babies to see if it really is safer.

      January 26, 2012 at 14:31 | Report abuse |
    • Yndrd

      I don't think you understand what "lower risk profile" means – it doesn't mean that home births are safer. It means that women who have risky pregnancies head to a hospital to stay safe, leaving the lower-risk ones to be delivered at home.

      The next sentence explains that the low risk profile is "because midwives do such a good job of choosing candidates", in other words they're doing a good job sending women and babies that might have trouble to where there are more resources to help take care of them.

      January 26, 2012 at 19:36 | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      The success rates are much better if you start with healthy candidates.

      January 26, 2012 at 23:14 | Report abuse |
  3. mae

    I don't for one second believe a home birth is safer than a hospital birth. Where's the OR staff when you need it? Where are the fetal monitors? My first had a knot in her cord and her heartbeat completely stopped. If I hadn't been in the hospital with a surgical staff, she would have died. They literally cut her out of me in 45 seconds. My 2nd would have probably killed me or been injured as he had a 15" head and required a c_section. Women giving birth at home, in my opinion, are taking unneccesary risks. Stop trying to glamorize it – this is why women use to die in childbirth all the time.

    January 26, 2012 at 14:10 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cew

      Actually, Mae, when studies have been done excluding accidental out-of-hospital births, and preterm births, home birth has a similar outcome (i.e., live and healthy mothers and babies), but with one notable exception – far fewer c-sections and other interventions were performed.

      Hospitals have a FAR higher infection rate, even today in this era of "sterile" environments. Mothers and babies die of germs like MRSA and the like that they picked up at the hospital. There is risk no matter WHERE you give birth.

      January 26, 2012 at 14:16 | Report abuse |
    • On the other hand ...

      There are no guarantees in life, ever. Giving birth comes with risks; but to put all your faith in the hospital doesn't really strike me as a good remedy for those risks. Reading your post one could say that you've manifested your fears. There are mothers out there that do not have the fears you do.
      Given that so many hospital births have turned out problematic and come with such high cost I am not surprised so many women choose to give birht at home.

      January 26, 2012 at 14:30 | Report abuse |
    • heidi

      Dear mae,
      I'm sorry for your experience, but the complications you experienced during labour are not the majority. True cases of cephalopelvic disproportion are very rare and a good midwife would have been able to diagnose this problem for you if it was the case.
      Birth will always contain some risk, but sadly women these days like to focus on the risk and not the benefits that are proven with an out-of-hospital birth. There is alot of research out there now that proves all the negative experiences our babies go through when delivered in hospital actually have effects on them: The drugs affect our babies, the environment (bright lights, loud noise, chaos, fear) affects our babies, removing baby from mother directly after birth affects our babies, formula, etc, etc, etc.
      Thank goodness the technology was there when you needed it, but most pregnancies do not need it if they are (and stay) low-risk. Educate yourself about how hospitals and obstetricians make their money and you will quickly learn why so many low-risk mothers end up in CSEC. Don't be fooled, birthing is a business to the hospitals.

      January 26, 2012 at 14:52 | Report abuse |
    • Katie

      Women give birth at home for a variety of reasons. With the proper pre-natal care and a good midwife there is a very high probability of everything going as the mother wishes. Yes, sometimes something unforeseen can happen, but that can happen in the hospital too. I know, it happened to me. I was the final stage of labor for nearly three hours – fifteen hours since my water broke – when my son started to go into distress. Unfortunately, there was only ONE operating room and staff available. At the same time, another mother and her baby went into distress and hers was the more urgent – she went to the OR for an emergency surgery (and were immediately air-lifted to a larger hospital with a neo-natal care unit) and I had to wait seventy-four minutes before I was taken to the OR for my C-section. Another physician was called to sit with me, and I spent that entire time on my hands and knees – the recommended position to keep vital and oxygen blood flowing through the cord. My son was born with an initial apgar of 1 because he had a heart beat. Ten very tense minutes later he was assessed at a 9. If we had to wait even a few more minutes he would have died in utero. This happened in a fully staffed, fully equipped hospital. No one can foresee the future and every single pregnancy has a risk of something happening, even when you're in the hospital.

      January 26, 2012 at 15:47 | Report abuse |
    • Adepaola

      Dear on the other hand – to suggest that Mae being worried caused her baby's cord to be tied in a knot is absolutely stupid. That baby would have died if not for a csection. Making it seem like its somehow the moms fault for "manifesting her fears" is ignorant and mean. When you have your MD or CNM you get back to me on whether or not you can worry your baby into fetal distress. Nothing wrong with home birth if your midwife says you're healthy enough, and nothing wrong with choosing to deliver in a hospital if you feel safer there.

      January 26, 2012 at 21:03 | Report abuse |
    • orchidgirl

      reputable home birth midwives use hand held fetal heart rate monitor (Doppler) and check heart rate between every contraction.

      January 26, 2012 at 21:57 | Report abuse |
    • Karolyn

      It is unusual for someone to need a c-section for a baby with a 15 inch head. I have birthed two 10 pounders at home, no episiotomy, no tear. As a labor and delivery nurse, I have seen countless babies born with a 15 inch head. Yes, that is a little larger than average, but certainly able to birth. Most home birth attendants are very careful, very observant, very on-top of what is taking place. What got me and my MD husband originally interested in homebirth was a doctor acquaintance who began exclusively doing homebirths after doing hospital births for years. He convinced us...and we are so glad he did! Statistically, there are far fewer problems at home births than hospital births.

      January 26, 2012 at 23:03 | Report abuse |
    • WowWow

      I think YOU are the one who is trying to "glamorize" it. No one cut a baby out of you in "45 seconds" for fetal distress......45 seconds of bradycardia (AKA "fetal distress") is something we hardly even look twice at, and if it lasts longer than that, then we have a whole litany of "in vitro resuscitation" mechanisms and procedures we go thru to try to correct it., lasting longer than 45 seconds. In the event of a catastrophic event, such as a prolapsed cord or a placental abruption-unless you had a really really good epidural PREVIOUSLY on board, you would have been put to sleep via GENERAL ANESTHESIA and would have no idea whether your C-section took 45 seconds or 45 minutes.

      January 27, 2012 at 01:11 | Report abuse |
    • SB

      My son's head measured 15.25" at birth. He was born at home attended by three CNMs with no complications after a labor that had started when my water broke 52 hours earlier. He was born into my husband's arms and into an environment that was safe and warm and comfortable for all of us. (Oh, and the cord was around his neck - a common occurrence that is rarely dangerous and easily addressed by a trained medical professional such as a midwife but that ill informed people frequently cite as a dangerous life threatening issue that can only be addressed in hospital).

      It is clear propoganda, BS and or/ignorance to claim that your baby required a C-section simply because of the size of his head, and even more so claiming that he would have killed or injured you.

      If my son had been born in a hospital I am certain that I would have been pushed into a c-section which would have been much more risky for me in my opinion than giving birth at home. My midwives are experienced and trained and knew exactly at what point to transfer to hospital if it had been necessary. I am now expecting my second child and even though we have to pay entirely out of pocket this time (while my unenlightened insurance company woudl pay the full $20k or so for a hospital birth with no questions asked) there is no way on earth that I woudl chose a hospital birth without a medical reason for doing so.

      January 27, 2012 at 09:59 | Report abuse |
    • IgM

      Just because some of you had no trouble delivering a 15 inch head, it doesn't mean that no one should have that problem. Pelvises are different sizes and shapes. For some women, this means the baby gets stuck and simply does not fit to get out.

      You can absolutely kill your baby if his head is stuck in the birth canal for too long. And C-sections are sometimes necessary. I'm glad everything worked out for you, but you could turn the judgment down a notch.

      January 27, 2012 at 13:03 | Report abuse |
  4. cew

    I had a planned home birth, and it was a wonderful experience. It was peaceful, with my husband, mom, best friend, and two certified nurse midwives with me. My midwives had attended 2000 home births in 20 years, and never lost a single mother or child. Their transfer rate to the hospital was only 10%, and only 7% total needed c-sections. My midwives carried some emergency equipment (like pitocin and oxygen), but mostly they sent the highest risk mothers to the hospital, and even if you were low-risk, they'd send you to the hospital if there was meconium in the water, if the baby was breech, stuff like that. They only delivered at home if the mom was between 37 and 42 weeks along. They also didn't hesitate to recommend a transfer at the first hint of complications. Must have worked pretty well – they never lost a single baby or mom. Oh, and they cleaned up after the baby put in an appearance.

    January 26, 2012 at 14:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • marywriter

      With my first pregancy I did extensive research into the safest way to deliver a baby. I wanted to to do everything in my power to create and deliver the healthiest child possible. The result was home birth. I did it twice with doctors and midwives in attendance in the '70's. When my daughter gave birth to her first child she chose a hospital birth. She had barely walked in the door when a nurse appeared with a needle and medication to speed things up. My daughter refused and gave birth without drugs. Her next two were born at home with doctor and midwife present (and family and friends). Hospital workers (nurses, doctors, etc) are all about their own schedules and their own needs. Why the rush to administer drugs? Why push or advocate "scheduled" births? Why so many unnecessary C sections? Home birthing is all about what is best for the baby. Home birthing requires excellent prenatal care under the care of a physician who will know when a hospital birth becomes necessary. Home birthing is the safest way to bring a baby into the world if proper care has been taken to ensure the best outcome.

      January 26, 2012 at 15:10 | Report abuse |
  5. cew

    Birth is a relatively risky procedure. Sometimes mothers and/or babies die or get very sick. And that happens no matter where you give birth. I find it very odd that people just assume that hospital birth is without risk, and that home birth is inherently risky. There are mothers and babies who die BECAUSE they were in the hospital (hospital-born infections, and other complications), and there are mothers and babies who die because they WEREN'T at the hospital (sudden, though rare, need for an emergency c-section). Also, home birth in coloniel times wasn't as dangerous as people think. According to midwife records, the death rate was less than 1%. That's high enough that nearly everyone knew someone who died in childbirth, but not so common that it was "dangerous". The mortality rate actually shot up, when, you guessed it, doctors co-opted birth from midwives, and moved birth to hospitals, before they understood about hygiene. It wasn't uncommon for a doctor to go from an amputation surgery to a birth without washing hands. When poor women who couldn't afford a midwife, would go to the hospitals for the poor to give birth, they died in FAR higher rates (approaching 25%), than upper-class women who hired a midwife to come to their home. Granted, this history has little to do with modern hospitals or midwives (both of which are far safer today then 200 years ago), but those old "women died all the time – that's why we do it in the hospital now" stories – well, that's just ignorance of the risks in either location, or of the history.

    January 26, 2012 at 14:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Rachel

    I can vouche for this article, had a safe and relaxing homebirth myself and felt totally in control and comfortable. Would do it over again in a heartbeat.

    January 26, 2012 at 14:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. rpatter

    Unfortunately, both my pregnancies required hospitalization. I have several friends who are proponents of home births and have done so successfully. It is definitely a very personal decision and not one to be entered into without understanding the risks and benefits of one option versus another.

    January 26, 2012 at 14:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cew

      Well said! I'm definitely a proponent of home birth, but I'm grateful that hospitals are available when they are needed. I personally would have gone to the hospital at the drop of a hat, had there been any complications during my daughter's birth. I also think that merely "feeling more comfortable at a hospital" is a good enough reason to deliver there.

      January 26, 2012 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
  8. ghj

    Well it's pretty obvious that since this uptick started in 2005 it's related to the economy. My guess is these women lost their health coverage and a hosp. birth isn't really an option for them. The article says women are choosing home birth but I'm not sure it's really a choice in that sense.

    It's really kind of a sad commentary on the state of our country when women can't afford to have their babies in a hosp.

    And Mae I highly doubt they cut a baby out of you in 45 seconds or you had a baby with a 15 in. head.

    January 26, 2012 at 14:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cew

      Yes, the average "decision to incision" time is typically about 30 minutes. About the only way the "45 second" thing could be true, is if she were laboring in the OR, on the table, with surgeons, anesthesiologists, and everyone standing by to DO the surgery.

      January 26, 2012 at 14:41 | Report abuse |
    • Mom2x

      Actually, at the hospital where I gave birth (Yale) my son went into distress and when I panicked the OB encouraged me to stick with it and said ifnecessary they could have him out in 60 seconds, no problem.

      January 26, 2012 at 20:41 | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      My first child had a 15" head (100th percentile) when he was born at 39 weeks gestation. He was born by cesarean after I spent more than 2 hours pushing and he went into fetal distress. I work as a scrub tech in an OR and while I have never personally seen an infant delivered in 45 seconds, I have no doubt whatsoever that it could be done.

      January 26, 2012 at 20:57 | Report abuse |
    • Maria

      FWIW, it's not always a financial decision. We chose it because of the incredibly non-natural birth friendly policies of *all* of the hospitals within a reasonable driving distance, and because we were able to find a very highly qualified midwife. Like many midwives, she actually has more extensive training and *far* more experience in normal deliveries than most OBs. Her transport rate is very low because she does such a good job of screening for potential complications before they become emergencies, as the article describes - but she doesn't hesitate to transfer should the need arise, either.

      There's actually absolutely no additional risk in our case because should we run into danger while laboring, it'd take us less time to get to a hospital than it routinely takes those hospitals to be ready to perform an 'emergency' c-section. If the midwife spotted any hint of a likely complication, she'd call ahead and we'd be there well before they were even ready to go. (Yes, we're rural, not urban. But you don't see anyone telling rural mothers they have to move to big cities to reduce their risk in childbirth because it'd take 45 minutes to an hour for an emergency C at any hospital within reasonable driving distance; the same should logically apply to homebirth, you'd think.) If anything, the risk is lower because the midwife offers one-on-one continuous care and would quickly spot emergent problems, whereas when I have delivered in a hospital, I've been alone in the room with no medical staff around the vast majority of the labor, so no one would have been there to spot indications of an arising complication.

      January 26, 2012 at 22:32 | Report abuse |
    • SunInSeattle

      While I cannot speak to the head size issue, I can speak to the c-section delivery time since it is seared in my memory (as well as the hospital records): My son went into fetal distress at 12:53pm; he was born at 12:54pm.

      January 26, 2012 at 22:40 | Report abuse |
    • J

      ghi – Sad that you assume the economy is a factor for women making the choice to have a home birth . And shame on you judging another woman's birth story. You would be better served to educate yourself on midwifery and the many advantages of home birth. The US is ranked 28 out of 30 counties in infant/mother deaths rates (one being the least). The World Health Organization suggests that a C-section rate between 5 and 7% is acceptable. However in the US, you will be hard pressed to see rates that low. On average, hospital C-section rates in the US are 25 to 35% some upwards of 60%. Check stats as to when babies are being born (Tues-Thurs as scheduled or induced). Check into studies showing the advantages of baby/mother bonding when there is little to no intervention taking place (ie. no drugs given during/before birth). When having a baby is big business and big pharm. has a hand in it – it's no wonder why women would be looking for options that best fit the safety of their unborn children.

      January 26, 2012 at 22:57 | Report abuse |
    • SB

      Actually the economic issue works both ways. Sure, if you don't have insurance then a homebirth will be cheaper. However, if you do have insurance then your insurance often won't cover a home birth or you will have to fight to get a home birth covered. I have chosen to pay up to $4k out of pocket so that I can give birth at home this time. If I went to hospital I wouldn't even pay a co-pay. We are not rich so paying this is hard but it is important to me to give birth in my own environment just as I did with my last child and just as my mother did with her children. I will admit, I am TERRIFIED of giving birth in hospital and having all my control taken away from me (and ultimately ending up with complications caused by unnecessary intervientions ordered by medical staff who do not know me).

      January 27, 2012 at 10:09 | Report abuse |
  9. ghj

    And actually this business about having a midwife or a doula at a hosp. must be a load of crap. My niece gave birth at a hosp. w/ a doula and an obstetrician present. She had a very long extended labor and she finally said she wanted to squat on the floor. She was told she couldn't! She kept saying she wanted to squat on the floor and being told no. Finally they set up a birthing bar on the bed and she squatted as she wished. She eventually had a successful delivery and a beautiful healthy baby boy.

    I thought the point of a doula was to support the laboring mother and encourage her to labor and birth as she wished.

    January 26, 2012 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cew

      How doulas and midwives work with hospitals varies from state to state, and hospital to hospital. When my midwives transferred to the hospital, assuming that the mother was not in need of a c-section, they continued to attend her there, and caught the baby at the hospital instead of at home. If there were more serious complications, they turned it over to one of the OBs, but continued to assist and support the mother. But that was at one hospital (Trenton). They didn't have delivery privileges at Princeton University hospital, and so if a mother had to be transferred there, then they were excluded from the birth from that point on. But Princeton had its own midwives on staff, and they regularly delivered babies there, without the aid of an OB.

      January 26, 2012 at 14:54 | Report abuse |
    • heidi

      The doula does not trump hospital staff in making decisions for the mother NOR is it her job to put words in the mother's mouth. If the hospital staff wasn't comfortable with your niece birthing on the floor, there is nothing any doula could do about that. It's too bad that hospitals have such stricts regulations and protocols, isn't it?

      January 26, 2012 at 14:57 | Report abuse |
    • Lily

      I agree that the aides at the hospital ended up being more of a nuisance than help. They made a lot of mistakes on me (unsucessfully put IV on my wrist for 4 or 5 times, as if she slit my wrist!) and made my birth much more painful and difficult! I seriously doubt what kind of training they had, or it's just some cost-saving tactics of the hospital. Nurses are getting more and more expensive so they hired more aides. We really need to look out for ourselves.

      January 26, 2012 at 15:48 | Report abuse |
    • heidi

      Clarification: Doulas and Midwives are not the same as Health Care Aides. Doulas and Midwives are usually hired by the woman in North America, not provided by the hospital.

      January 26, 2012 at 15:50 | Report abuse |
    • ghj

      Yes but Heidi everything I've seen and heard about doulas are that they are supposed to support he laboring mother. Encouraging her to move around and birth as she wishes. If the mother isn't allowed to get that support from the doula, what is the point of having one? She gets paid to support the mother. So in this particular case she almost got paid for doing nothing.

      I think the real issue was the floor. They didn't want her on the floor. But they did have a birthing bar. She should have been told she couldn't go on the floor but they'd get this bar and she can squat using that. She was simply being told no. She had to keep repeating her wish to squat on the floor. Her doula should have focused on supporting her by focusing on the squatting not so much the floor.

      That's just how I see it. Obviously I wasn't there. But I got all this from the girl's mother, who was there.

      January 26, 2012 at 16:45 | Report abuse |
    • heidi

      In that situation what do you think would have been appropriate for the doula to do?

      January 26, 2012 at 17:09 | Report abuse |
    • KT

      The doula should have been educated enough to know that a squatting bar was available and suggested it to the patient. I was an OB nurse for years and I have seen a doula sleep the entire night away while the patient labored–it was the nurse assigned to the patient who was her support and after the baby was born the doula couldn't get out the door fast enough. I have also seen a midwife panic for no reason and totally freak out the patient, her husband and her mother.

      January 26, 2012 at 22:27 | Report abuse |
    • J

      A home birth and that wouldn't have been a problem. for you niece. Hospitals interfere with birthing plans and once in the hands of hospital staff you have less control of what you want. Pregnancy isn't an illness as categorized the US. Women are not sick, just having a baby. Just a thought, OBGYN's by trade are surgeons – ask one and see if they know anything about Midwifery – it's only been around for centuries.

      January 26, 2012 at 23:06 | Report abuse |
  10. ghj

    30 minutes sounds more like it. I had an emergency C-section. I don't recall how long it took to get the baby out but they had to move me to the OR, get me on the table, and find a surgeon. It was early New Years Day. My Dr. had checked on me and since I was only 3 cm left. So they grabbed a Dr. who was delivering another woman. But a nurse had to be available to catch that baby while the Dr. was scrubbing up for me.

    Meanwhile, my Dr. did arrive, scrubbed up, and performed the actual surgery after I was put under. Not sure how long that all took. It seemed like a flurry of activity at the time but I've watched it on video and it really took awhile. It was over 20 yrs. ago and I haven't watched it in a long time but it wasn't as quick as one would think even in an emergency.

    And yes, it was a true emergency as the cord came out first. The attending had to hold it and the baby in while telling me not to push until I was put under. It was one of those scenes where he jumped on the bed and we all went down the hall.

    January 26, 2012 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cew

      Oh, yes. Cord prolapse is indeed a life-threatening emergency. Glad everything worked out OK.

      January 26, 2012 at 14:56 | Report abuse |
  11. ghj

    Me too. 🙂

    January 26, 2012 at 14:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Russled Jimmies

    It's quite obvious why more women are giving birth at home. Their insurance either doesn't cover it, doesn't cover it enough, or they don't have any insurance. Look at the unemployment rate and how existing insurances are screwing over customers everyday and its no wonder women choose to deliver in the comfort of their own home.

    January 26, 2012 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dre

      I don't know why you assume the answer is so "obvious". In fact, perhaps many women (like myself) chose homebirth recently because we have access to information via the web and can educate ourselves and make the best decision for ourselves and our babies. I didn't have a homebirth because of the cost. In fact it cost more, because most insurance carriers don't cover it. If you do have insurance, a hospital birth might be cheaper than a homebirth in most situations. But it was worth the expense to deliver at home, because it was, in every respect, better for my baby.

      January 26, 2012 at 16:30 | Report abuse |
    • msadr

      I would definitely prefer giving birth at home and that has absolutely not one thing to do with cost.

      January 26, 2012 at 20:51 | Report abuse |
    • jane

      Actually its likely the opposite. Most are well educated, white and over the age of 35. The most likely to have insurance. And they are paying out of pocket/cash for the nurse midwife or doula. When I checked into it the hospital would have been $250 and home birth about $800. My sister is a NP and had both kids in the hospital and neither would let her stand up and both tried to force drugs on her. No thanks. The best for me is a free standing birthing center very near a hospital. Give me a birthing suite with the hospital right near by.

      January 26, 2012 at 23:45 | Report abuse |
    • SB

      For me a hospital birth = zero cost. Home birth= $4kplus. I chose the homebirth (twice). And no i'm not rich, I just value my health.

      January 27, 2012 at 10:12 | Report abuse |
  13. roginac

    If you don't mind my asking, what does it cost to have a baby in a hospital in the states. I live in Canada so I have no idea. I gave birth to my son in the hospital, but it was my first baby and due to a couple of complications, and a nervous husband ,we decided the hospital was the best place. It was a good experience. Midwives became covered by our medical insurance here in Alberta about 2 years ago, so until then if we wanted a home birth it did cost about $1000 to $2000 I think. Since it became covered it is also becoming more popular here for home births or birthing centers.It can be hard to get a midwife. I think it is just a personal choice and what your comfort level is.

    January 26, 2012 at 15:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • heidi

      It was actually closer to $3500 here in AB before midwives were funded in our healthcare system. But you have to remember that that $3500 is not only for the actual birth, but also 10+ months of pre and post-natal care by the midwives. You would NEVER get all that for only $3500 in the States. Luckily for us...now all that care is FREE for us Canadians!!

      January 26, 2012 at 15:34 | Report abuse |
    • snake

      my son was born in grand junction,colorado. al the bills amounted to around $15,000. i didn't have insurance so i had to pay it. but the hospial ST MARY'S were very generous and i only had to pay aprox $2,000 of the $10,000 i owed them. THANK YOU SO MUCH ST MARY'S HOSPITAL GRAND JUNCTION COLORADO. everyone else made me pay full price.

      January 26, 2012 at 16:01 | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      I had my first baby in Canada and second in the US. Obviously my c section in Canada was free, and the deductible for my pregnancy care was $4700 in the US (this is with top of the line insurance). The insurance statements I have seen show my c-section and hospital stay cost approximately $40,000. Crazy I know. I was at one of the best hospitals in the country and the care between the c-sections was about the same as Canada (actually slightly better in Canada). I'm sure people without insurance go bankrupt just having a baby in this country. Decent insurance for a small family is about $1500/month (my insurance is much more).

      January 26, 2012 at 16:08 | Report abuse |
    • Stephanie

      Health care in Canada isn't free. You pay for your own healthcare through the taxes that are taken directly out of your paycheck, and you also pay for the healthcare of everyone who isn't working and therefore not paying into the system. If you guys like it like that, that's great, but get your facts straight. It's not free.

      January 26, 2012 at 16:17 | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      Well actually Stephanie if you factor in the employee portion of my husband's insurance premiums and the medical costs not covered by insurance, we pay much more combined taxes and medical expenses then we ever paid in tax in Canada. And everyone in my family is completely healthy – imagine the costs if we weren't! So maybe you need to get your facts straight!

      January 26, 2012 at 16:25 | Report abuse |
    • bla

      My friend had a very normal, successful delivery and her hospital bills were still $12,000 (her insurance only covered half, so she had to pay $6K out of pocket).

      My coworkers daughter went into pre-term labor at 26 weeks, was hospitalized on bedrest, and finally had to deliver by C-section at 28 weeks, the baby was in the NICU for several weeks after and their total hospital bills were over $250,000. If they had not had decent insurance, those bills literally would have bankrupted them.

      January 26, 2012 at 16:33 | Report abuse |
    • heidi

      I actually just took a look at my paystub. My income tax deduction is less than $350. Even if 100% of that money was going towards health care in my country, I would happily pay that to ensure me and my fellow-countrymen and women had access to the quality of healthcare that we enjoy in Canada. Are you suggesting that paying income tax and having to find your own healthcare insurance in the States is better?
      Of all the 33 developed countries in the world, there's only one that doesn't offer universal healthcare for it's citizens......I'll give you a hint....it starts with "United". Are you really?

      January 26, 2012 at 17:00 | Report abuse |
    • roginac

      Wow.Thanks for all the responses.Stephanie, My alberta healthcare is no monthly cost, and my hubbys company pays for his blue cross. I know my taxes pay for healthcare and many other things including social services.But it also covers seniors, and people who need more care like cancer patients. And no I don't like paying taxes, no one does, but it is a fact of life. I am sure my medical bills if I had to pay for them out of pocket would far exceed what I pay a year in taxes. Either way it is amazing the differences between our 2 countries when it comes to healthcare.

      January 26, 2012 at 17:09 | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Funny how everyone has different experiences with Canada's Universal Health Care. My grandmother, who is over 80, had pretty significant back pain for years and the solution the multiple doctors she went to see in Canada was to drug her into oblivion. She happened to be in the States when she had a pretty good health scare that required her to stay overnight in the hospital. While there she mentioned her back pain. The Doctors ordered an MRI, determined the problem and performed surgery the next morning. Guess what? No more back pain and her quality of life is much much better. It is her opinion, that the reason she couldn't get the care she needed in Canada was because she was old. While the care may be available to everyone it may not be available when you need it or if your old. It might be available to everyone but that doesn't mean the care you receive will be all that great.

      Before her surgery most of her kids and grandkids assumed she wouldn't be around much longer. Her quality of life was so poor and her health seemed to be declining so fast that we were actually getting ready so we could travel to Canada when she died. That was a couple of years ago. Now that she is pain free it seems she might be around for several more years.

      January 26, 2012 at 22:19 | Report abuse |
  14. snake

    people, esp those who have no health care insurance cannot afford a hospital. that luxury is reserved for illegal aliens from south of the border who get free health care. the reason why average americans cannot afford health care insurance. because someone has to pay for the illegals.

    January 26, 2012 at 15:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Stacey

    Thank goodness I have good insurance and only paid about $200.00 for all my prenatal care and birth because we saw a copy of the bill and between my cost and babies cost for a csection was almost $30,000.00. I just couldn't believe that!! That was in 2009.

    January 26, 2012 at 16:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Aimee midwife student

    When I delivered my son in a hospital 2.5 years ago the bill was $26,000 for me and $9000 for my son. I had a fantastic experience with a great OB and wonderful nurses. I was glad to be there as my son needed the NICU team for some intervention after delivery, but I would consider another option the second time around.
    The cost is not the only reason that women are choosing homebirths. The biggest upswing in homebirths are in women who already have one child and are over the age of 35. Many of these women are educating themselves about their options or have had an in-hospital birth and wanted something more than they were offered with their first experience. In my area, the birth center is a diverse place with women of all backgrounds choosing their care there. Homebirths in this area are also available.

    January 26, 2012 at 16:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. shan

    Jen, where do you live that you pay that much for insurance? I live in taxachusetts and only pay $140/month for me and my son, husbands insurance is almost free for an individual. My son, born 5 years ago was a $500 co pay, thats it, c-section which i think the hospital rushed in hind sight. i know the anestesiologist (sp) was $12,000 though but it was covered.

    January 26, 2012 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Jen

      Hi Shan. I also live in taxachusetts :). I'm not sure what type of insurance you have but two of my friends are self-employed and pay about 1500/month each for families of four, and is not as good as my insurance (my husbands employer pays the majority of our monthly insurance). Not sure if it has changed since you gave birth but I recently had a baby and the deductible was $2000/year for pregnancy. My pregnancy fell between two years and so I had to pay $4k.
      Then my baby had a $700 deductible for her care. Everyone tells me my insurance is the best (I have zero copays on a lot of things). Being from Canada originally it doesn't seem good to me so I guess it is all relative 🙂 Also people have this misconception the care is way better here. It is for some things, but I would take Canadian healthcare any day of the week.

      January 26, 2012 at 16:37 | Report abuse |
    • insurance isn't free

      Insurance isn't free. When work pays for your insurance, that's money that you could be receiving but don't get. "Universal Health Care" is payed for with tax dollars. Not having universal health care should be an advantage in that you have competing insurance carries who want your business. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case for some reason.

      I have BCBS of Alabama and pay ~200 out of my paycheck a month. My employer pays ~1500 more a month. That covers me my wife and my two children. So BCBS get's 20,000 dollars a year from me. BCBS of Alabama is owned by doctors, doctors who don't like midwifery. In fact it is illegal to plan a birth at home in Alabama with a Midwife. The doctors can be thanked for that. The bill we received from the hospital was for about $13000 and the bill from the OB was about $2000. The agreement BCBS had with the OB and hospital would only pay about $3000 combined. I had to pay about $700 out of pocket.

      Less than an hour north is Tennessee where it is legal to have a midwife attend a birth. It's about 3500 for the 15 months of care that midwife will give you. You will get someone who cares about the pregnant mother and stays with her for the entire childbirth. She is familiar with birth enough to know when to get you to hospital if something is going wrong. So what BCBS and I paid was $3700, slightly more than the fee for the nearest legal midwife. I think you get alot more for your money with a midwife than you would get with a hospital. It is good to have the hospitals there though for emergencies.

      Shan just because you only pay $140 a month doesn't mean much. Ask your HR director how much they pay a month for you. You should consider that how much you pay since that is how much you would be paying for the insurance without a job. While you are at it you ought to find out how much your husbands employer pays as well. It's not free money you work for it and would have to pay it if you didn't have a job.

      January 26, 2012 at 21:25 | Report abuse |
    • jane

      Wow. I live in TN (cheap cost of living). Total single insurance is $150 a month I pay and $600 my employer pays. My sisters family insurance is $550 a month with a 2k deductible per person.

      January 26, 2012 at 23:50 | Report abuse |
  18. M

    Yes, Aimee, I see in the article where it states about the upswing. And I still think it indicates these women or their husbands' lost their jobs and their insurance and therefore elect for a homebirth. It's not really a medical choice they are making but a financial one.

    January 26, 2012 at 16:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cew

      We chose a home birth, even though we a) had insurance, and b) wasn't sure if it would cover the home birth (it did). Our total out of pocket was about $1500, which we paid over the course of the 9 months. Financial concerns are NOT the only reason people choose home birth.

      January 26, 2012 at 17:45 | Report abuse |
    • IrishMama

      Actually, M, if you look at the CDC statisrics, women most likely to opt for homebirth are in the upper income brackets, highly educated and over the age of 35. I am one of thrm. I gave birth to my first two in a hospital and contracted MRSA from one of those hospitals. For my third, I began researching and educated myself and learned that home was the safest place for me to birth my baby. I enjoyed the most incredible pregnancy, labor and birth I could have imagined under the care of highly trained, sensitive and loving midwives. My previous pregnancies and births don't hold a candle to it. Oh, and I had excellent insurance, am an Ivy League graduate and in an upper income bracket. If you look at the stats, I am just a typical US homebirther.

      January 26, 2012 at 20:29 | Report abuse |
    • jane

      Wrong. Most are by women who are white, well educated and over the age of 35. Most likely to have insurance and money to pay out of pocket for a doula. Why? Because they have researched and decided a home birth is better in their situation than a hospital birth.

      January 26, 2012 at 23:54 | Report abuse |
  19. Sonya

    Stephanie I actually think you need to get your facts straight . We pay higher taxes then most states but not all .. also our taxes go to schools medical , roads ,ect ,, I had all 3 of my children at the hospital never even thought of doing a home birth ,Now my daughter who is 21 is thinking when she has a child she is going to do a home birth and If there is no complications with her pregnancy I think its great !

    January 26, 2012 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Gandalfthegrey

    Why natural childbirth is so romanticized I cannot understand. We forget the mother-infant mortality rate in the good old days when women had no other choice but to have babies at home. If my son had been born at home my wife would have bled to death and my son would have died as well. Yet she had a low risk, uncomplicated pregnancy. You never know what can happen.

    January 26, 2012 at 16:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • dre

      why do you assume a midwife would have been unequipped to deal with the problem? birth is natural. and that is not romanticizing. its what we are born to do and evolution equips us to do it. hospitals are for sick people.

      January 26, 2012 at 16:59 | Report abuse |
    • cew

      No one is romanticizing the past. Modern midwives have FAR more medical training than those of 200 years ago. And most of them are equipped with certain emergency equipment (like oxygen and pitocin in case of hemorrhage). And frankly, historical home birth did NOT have the high mortality rate that people LOVE to think that it does. In 1700s the mother and infant mortality rate was LESS than 1%. The rate started going up, way, way up, when doctors took over, but before they understood about hygiene. In the 1890s, poor women who couldn't afford midwives, went to hospitals for the poor, where the mortality rate was upwards of 25%, due to hospital-born infection. Even today, hospital born infection, even with good hygiene, is still a higher risk than when birthing at home.

      January 26, 2012 at 17:50 | Report abuse |
  21. BillRubin

    No midwife would attempt to deliver a high-risk pregnancy at home – high riskers go to hospital, that's why you can't easily compare outcomes of home to hospital births.

    As for people saying "the human race has been delivering outside of hospitals for tens of thousands of years" – you're completing ignoring the higher infant mortality rate even a hundred years ago!

    January 26, 2012 at 17:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cew

      Maternal and infant mortality was MUCH higher 100 years ago than it was 200 years ago, due to births moving to the hospital, where there was no understanding of hygiene. 200-300 years ago, midwives delivered all babies at home, in an environment where people were used to their own germs. The mortality rate was less than ONE PERCENT. But 100 years ago, births moved to the hospital where doctors didn't have a good understanding of basic hygiene procedures, and poor women had far higher mortality rates (more than 25%) than rich women, who could still afford midwives.

      Today, both modern hospitals AND modern midwives know FAR FAR more about how to keep moms and babies alive. Comparing our modern system to that of the past is kinda stupid considering that.

      January 26, 2012 at 17:53 | Report abuse |
    • Danielle

      RIght! Maternal mortality rate doing it all natural all the time is akin to the stats of the mortality rate of a third world country. It really is not a fair comparison

      January 26, 2012 at 23:05 | Report abuse |
    • BillRubin

      cew, that's exactly why rejecting hospital births because of "the human race has done well enough without it" is a moot point.

      January 27, 2012 at 06:21 | Report abuse |
  22. Anne

    My first baby was a 72hr labor, home birth transport to hospital. I needed the drugs and the nap I got at the hospital to get my strength back up and get my (natural delivery) baby born.

    My second baby was a textbook, 24 hours from beginning to end, not easy but doable home birth.

    I had a fine experience at the hospital – no one was mean, the food was decent, and my baby stayed with me and got all the breastfeeding she could want. Even so, there is no way I'll birth in a hospital ever again. It wasn't nearly as good as homebirth, and while I recognize women's right to choose, healthy birth at home is amazingly, astonishingly better.

    January 26, 2012 at 17:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Springermom1

    these women are nuts! What if something goes wrong?

    Read my funny blog on my battle with Crunchy Cheetos and Pop Tarts!


    January 26, 2012 at 17:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cew

      Something can go wrong, no matter where you are. There are risks to birthing at a hospital that are absent when you are at home, and there are risks to birthing at home, that wouldn't be present at the hospital. It is foolish and a false dichotomy to assume that home birth is risky and hospital birth is safe.

      January 26, 2012 at 17:57 | Report abuse |
    • dre

      if something goes wrong your highly trained midwife responds appropriately... if you can't think through your "battle" with junk food, its not surprising you would rather be fearful of homebirth than educate yourself..

      January 26, 2012 at 18:01 | Report abuse |
  24. Anon_e_mouse

    After the birth of our older daughter, in a hospital setting, my wife said "never again"... our older son was born at home with a doctor present (as well as some friends to assist) and our younger daughter with a certified nurse-midwife and another RN who was in training to be a midwife present. Had it been an appropriate option we would have had our younger son in the same manner, but my wife had had some complications at mid-pregnancy so we opted to go to the birthing center where the team who had delivered our third child was based. Russ had other ideas, though... he was born, without complication of any kind, in the parking lot of the rescue squad where we stopped when it became obvious we weren't going to make it the rest of the way. Our two grandsons were also born at home; as to any additional grandchildren we'll have to wait and see.

    January 26, 2012 at 20:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. RMS

    I had three wonderful homebirths (1991, 1993, 1995) after having 2 c-sections (1987, 1989). I would be considered "high-risk" by today's standards, but I just got sick and tired of all of the hospital interventions and ridiculous protocols. Homebirth is much safer than hospital birth and not just because they screen their candidates better. I would have gone to the hospital and had another c-section if I felt my child was in any type of danger – but I refused to have another c-section for the convenience of the doctor and hospital staff (did I mention that both my c-sections were on a Saturday night?).

    January 26, 2012 at 20:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. rie

    I listened to a doula in a baby boutique viciously berating a pregnant woman the other day for her decision to have her baby at a hospital. I'm pregnant myself, and it took every fiber of my being not to want to smack the doula in the head. Never in a million years would I want to have my baby at home instead of a hospital. I echo Patton Oswalt's (hilarious) sentiments in this amazing skit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbai-yBRyHg

    January 26, 2012 at 20:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Tina

    It felt like making love, at home. Then we made the mistake of going to the hospital. Stay at home. The good Lord or biology, which ever you believe in, knows better than rich spoiled doctors who want you to have a c-section so thet can get paid more. This in not spam. This is a voice of a woman whose family was destroyed by spoiled pampered bullies who called themselves doctors

    January 26, 2012 at 20:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Andrea M

    Screw that! Please believe any baby I have will be delivered in a hospital, preferably with copious amounts of drugs. We've managed to greatly reduce the risk of giving birth through modern medicine in hospitals, going back to the dark ages is positively one of the most stupid ideas ever. I wouldn't have survived at birth without modern medicine, my mom would probably have died too. Either a child or a mother is going to die, it's only a matter of time. The people who choose to have home births are the same people who won't vaccinate their kids and then won't let them have pets because "animals should be free and not kept by humans." Really, these idiots shouldn't be allowed to breed in the first place. Trust me, I've known plenty, I grew up in Boulder county, Colorado.

    January 26, 2012 at 20:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cew

      Wow... I really don't get why vaccination and home birth go hand in hand with so many people. I birthed at home, and my daughter has all the shots. We only turned down the chickenpox shot because she'd already gotten the illness, and saw no need to stick her the extra time. Every homebirther I knew at the midwife's office had their kids vaccinated.

      January 26, 2012 at 22:18 | Report abuse |
    • jane

      uhm wow. Speechless. Everyone must be an idiot who disagrees with you. Please do us all a favor and don't breed.

      January 26, 2012 at 23:57 | Report abuse |
    • AZLady

      Wow- please do us all a favor and don't have any kids.

      I have 2 cats and a dog. I am planning to vaccinate my baby. I am also having a baby at a birth center. It is far from the dark ages. Stop spreading your ignorance- I hear the internet helps.. but then you probably are not that good at reading.

      January 27, 2012 at 17:05 | Report abuse |
  29. Eli

    After a completely fine hospital experience with our first child, my wife was the support person for an older child at a homebirth involving a friend of hers. She came away with a very positive opinion of homebirth and our middle and youngest children have been born at home. It was a well-researched decision we arrived at after considerable soul-searching, prayer, and consideration, and which we would not have attempted without the complete confidence any parents can ever have going into a birth experience.

    Homebirth isn't for everyone, but I am very pleased that it is getting more attention as a viable option. It shouldn't be a choice anyone arrives at haphazardly, but for too long people have not even considered it, and that's a real shame, based on our personal experience. While the growing numbers and percentages of people choosing it is cool to me, personally, as a sign of greater awareness of options and studied choices, I would hope everyone could respect this trend.

    January 26, 2012 at 20:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. deb23

    CEW has definitely done her homework and backs it up with experience. I gave birth in a birthing center 23 years ago for my first child, I was home 2 hours after the delivery. My next one I birthed at home – nothing like it if there are no complications. I was a Bradly natural birth instructor for 7 years and attended the births of some of those in my classes as a doula. Different hospitals have different guidelines. Some will claim to allow you to labor in the tub, but some won't let you once your water has broken. The risk of infection is real in hospitals. In fact, if you've ever had a family member who stayed in the hospital or after care facility longer than 3 weeks, it seems inevitable they will contract MRSA or a staff infection these days. It's all risky. I could tell you hospital and doctor mistakes that have occurred related to birth that you wouldn't believe. I also believe that a person should not birth at home if they are not fully comfortable with it and trust their birth attendant to make the right calls. I think home birthers too can't expect people to understand their choice. We did our research and I was lucky enough to be a low risk birther. In both cases I did bleed post birth longer than was comfortable for my birthing teams – I was given pitocin once this was determined and methergin was an option if it had continued, third option would have been a transport. All worked out obviously.. So certain situations can be managed at home. Nothing is a sure thing – whatever choice you make you have to live with – sometimes no matter where you are, bad things happen that are unpredictable. The woman who talked about a prolapsed cord and the doctor or nurse positioning her so as to save her baby and her from the fatal results of a compressed cord – awesome! A midwife can do the same. But, no matter where you are, if someone isn't paying attention to a situation such as that one, it could result in a bad outcome. Bad stuff happens in hospitals ALL the time – no matter what, you have to be a good advocate for yourself – don't just let things be done to you without being aware of the risks and possible complications.

    January 26, 2012 at 20:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Henry

    This makes sense if you take the economy into consideration and the tremendous increase in medical cost. You can't even go to the hospital to have a splinter removed without it costing several thousand dollars. If they were to do statistics about those having medical insurance like they do with unemployment the nation would go into shock.

    January 26, 2012 at 20:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Jill

    Well to each his own. My mother gave birth to me by c section in the late 50s. She'd have died having me at home. I had both of mine in the 80s when you were very cool if you had it "natural"...meaning no anesthetic. I gave birth to both mine with no pain relief. Why suffering terrible pain made you cooler I am not sure. I was stupid enough to buy it. I was also sorry. Some 30 yrs later, having also given birth to my uterus a few years ago (hello hysterectomy!) due to having large babies. I have one word. EPIDURAL. Wait...two words.....also DRUGS

    January 26, 2012 at 21:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DB

      I totally agree with you. One wonderful word is "eidural"....that was the word I said once I checked into the hospital and after that it was so peaceful, didn't feel thing during contraction, pushing...nothing like it.

      January 26, 2012 at 23:25 | Report abuse |
  33. TinCanOnAString

    Try getting your medical insurance company to pay a home birth claim. It's terrible. We make a health decision that would end up costing the insurance company less money, but they refuse to cover the birth. They didn't pay a dime after multiple appeals.

    January 26, 2012 at 21:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Bob C.

    Many hospitals have birthing centers. It's a big room with a bed, hot tub, and lots of room for the woman move around a lot. If things go well, you deliver there with a midwife. If things don't go well, the OR is two minutes away. It's the best of both worlds.

    January 26, 2012 at 21:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jane

      Agree. Perfect set up.

      January 26, 2012 at 23:59 | Report abuse |
  35. Chris

    So much of this is about choosing a good doctor who won't force unnecessary interventions or medications. You have to trust the folks that take care of you during pregnancy, if you don't that's where the need for home births come in. Personally I would never have a baby at home, I would never take that risk. When I was pregnant with my first I was perfectly fine until 3 weeks before delivery when I developed PIH, had I been seeing a MW all that time I would have lost valuable time with my doctor and possibly developed pre-e. A MW is NOT a doctor, they are a nurse for heavens sakes. I don't want to have a nurse making my medical decisions for me, plain and simple. I want a doctor available to me to make sure everything is done correctly and taking the risk of having a baby at home with a nurse rather than a doctor is ridiculous in my opinion. The baby being healthy is the most important thing, not the experience of child birth.

    January 26, 2012 at 21:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • WowWow

      "They are nurses, for heaven's sake"? I seriously can NOT believe you even said that.....WHO do you think it is that notices your unusually high blood pressure, or swelling, or headache, or epigastric pain, or vision changes and REPORTS them to your doctor??? Nurses AND Midwives are highly capable and proficient at recognizing and SUSPECTING PIH or Pre-Eclampsia long before YOUR DOCTOR even gives a sideways glance at your chart. In my state, CNM's are masters or phd educated lowly "nurses", who have MD back up for their practice. To make a statement that your PIH would have been missed by a CNM and wasted valuable time is not only "ridiculous", it is UNINFORMED and UNEDUCATED. CNM's are just as likely, if not even MORE likely, to pick up on complications that require the attention of an MD...WHY? Because they are nurses and spend much more time with their patients. I am willing to bet money that your MD caught your PIH because a nurse brought your symptoms to his attention!

      January 27, 2012 at 00:28 | Report abuse |
    • L&D Nurse

      I agree with the previous poster. The nurses do the initial assessments and vital signs at every place I've worked. We always catch pre-eclampsia – we let the doctors know what is going on with their patient and they are able to order further testing and diagnose pre-eclampsia. Any decent CNM would have diagnosed you early on.

      January 28, 2012 at 16:03 | Report abuse |
    • redsun

      Not trying to be inflammatory... you're making the point. While the nurse/midwife may recognize the problem, the doctor is needed to address the problem. I love ancillary staff, and medicine is teamwork through and through... but at the end of the day, 10 years of medical education equips a doctor to manage those issues

      January 29, 2012 at 23:00 | Report abuse |
  36. lily

    in the cave days no one had hot boiling water

    January 26, 2012 at 21:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Julie

    The only way I would do a homebirth is if the midwife was equipped with an epidural or something to put me out!!! I had three babies, all born in a hospital and the middle one was born so fast they didn't have time for an epidural. Labor and birth is HORRIBLE pain. I would not choose to stay home and go through that for hours if I could choose pain relief. Who wants to remember the birth experience as a traumatic thing.

    January 26, 2012 at 21:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cew

      If pain relief is important to you, then the hospital is the best place, and that's perfectly fine. I find the idea of a needle being stuck into my spine kind of creepy, and didn't want systemic drugs that would make me sleepy, so practiced Bradley relaxation exercises, and they worked ... well enough to get me through the birth (I won't say it was pain free, just manageable). But the nice thing about being drug-free is how GREAT I felt when it was over. The pain was gone, and I was alert, and happy, and full of endorphins.

      January 26, 2012 at 22:28 | Report abuse |
    • DB

      I had taken the epidural and didn't feel a thing and I was also totally alert when my baby was born and remember everything and felt just fine afterwords. Epidural just took the sensation waist down that's it.

      January 26, 2012 at 23:31 | Report abuse |
  38. Ed

    Homebirth is not necessarily inherently risky. It doesn't CAUSE problems. Low risk pregnancies are unlikely to have problems. However, emergent situations do arise and the time required for transport to hospital could literally mean life or death. For those who quote that the risk is very low, if you are one of the few percent with whom a complication happens, then it's 100% for you.

    January 26, 2012 at 22:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Peter Hudson

    Good, now its time to end most vaccines as well... Keep Government out of it, the FDA is garbage and let Doctors whom are honest, natural and not on the lobbyist take make recommendations.

    January 26, 2012 at 22:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Teri

    "Another reason may be dissatisfaction with the care women in labor receive at a hospital."

    Bingo. The rudest people I've ever met in my life were the nurses I had at the hospital when my daughter was born. My charts were messed up, they gave me drugs that were listed on my band and in my chart as being allergies, my daughter was denied the pediatrician we had picked out because they claimed he wasn't on our insurance. They put me in the worst room at the hospital despite being the only person on the floor at the time (which I didn't know until check out when we passed the other rooms – I wasn't exactly paying attention to the room when checking in). We were told that we had the "medicaid room." Funny, I wasn't on Medicaid and had full hospital coverage insurance with no copay, no deductible for maternity. Turns out they billed Medicaid instead of my insurance, which of course caused a denial and a hefty bill from the hospital. Insurance wanted to deny it because it wasn't filed in a timely manner. Headache from start to finish. Never again will I go to that hospital to give birth and seriously doubt I'd go to another because I doubt the others are any better. Just incompetence all around.

    January 26, 2012 at 22:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Katrina

      II'm sorry to hear about the experience you had. That sounds like a ridiculously bad hospital visit. However, as a Labor and Delivery RN, it's somewhat offensive to have you say that as a profession we are all incompetent. I have worked in several L&D's in different hospitals and have never seen anything close to what you described. I am in no way saying it didn't occur like that, but do realize that is NOT the norm. Most of us go into this career because we love taking care of women, and we LOVE birth. We are constantly attending conferences and educating ourselves on the latest information on how to keep your delivery as safe and enjoyable for mom and baby as possible. L&D is not an easy field to get into, nor is it an easy job. It's incredibly stressful and none of us would choose it if we did not absolutely love it. Contrary to what most people here want to believe, we have no desire to push anything on anyone. I generally offer the options, and let my patients know what other women have found helpful.
      Let's not let one bad experience paint an awful picture of the staff that truly care about helping you out.

      January 26, 2012 at 23:07 | Report abuse |
  41. Joe Brown

    This can't be any surprise. Here in the USA we have "quacks" for doctors. Their bad judgement calls cost lives, then they simply close up shop and go somewhere else.
    Why risk your child one way when you can risk another? This is actually a sticky question...

    January 26, 2012 at 22:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. anna

    home birth carries less risk of multiple births or being a teen mom? what moron wrote this crap?

    January 26, 2012 at 22:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Danielle

    It's possible to have a very intimate and personal experience at a hospital, should you want both of those things. I'm a labor and delivery RN and have worked all over the country. There are lots of choices, you just have to do your homework. There are fantastic labor and delivery units, and not so fantastic. Healthcare is getting increasingly competative and hospitals are responding to that, trying to get your business. Our unit is like a luxury hotel and is staffed so you have your own nurse. I have no problem with home deliveries. I think a woman should have whatever experience she wants to have. My point is, it doesn't have to be a diametrically opposed either the hospital or home, you really can have both, it's out there.

    January 26, 2012 at 23:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. John N Florida

    A serious question because I don't know the answer. When a home birth takes place, does the state issue a Certificate of Live Birth? They didn't use to, but that was decades ago. We have an Aunt, 87, who was born in their cabin in KY. She doesn't have a Birth Certificate (KY didn't issue except for hospital births) and will not be able to vote this year. She never learned to drive so she has never needed a state issued ID to this point.

    January 26, 2012 at 23:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jane

      Not sure in Kentucky, but in other states yes.

      January 27, 2012 at 00:02 | Report abuse |
    • WowWow

      It depends on the state.

      January 27, 2012 at 00:34 | Report abuse |
    • cew

      I don't know how it is in all states, but in New Jersey, my midwives just filled out a form, had me sign it, and a couple of weeks later, I had my daughter's birth certificate.

      January 29, 2012 at 10:19 | Report abuse |
  45. haruhisuoh

    Reblogged this on mydangodaikazoku and commented:
    Glad to hear this is getting even just a little more common! <3

    January 26, 2012 at 23:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. OMV

    I wonder how much the rising cost of a Hospital birth plays into this, especially with people not having health insurance.

    January 26, 2012 at 23:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Zorua Dude

    before considering home birth, it would be more prudent to see if there is a reputable Birth Center nearby. Birth Centers are facilities dedicated to helping mothers through the birthing process, and they are better equipped to handle any situation in the birthing process than either venue. Birth Centers are also less expensive than hospitals are. Overall, Birth Centers are the best choice. If there is no nearby Birth Center available though, I would think home birth is still better, but consult first with physicians and midwifes and such. Preparation is the most important rule in pregnancy.

    January 26, 2012 at 23:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Sandy Allen

    I’ve photographed births at hospitals, birthing centers, and at home. Certainly, the environment at home is less stressful, with mom and dad in familiar surroundings and in control of the what was going on. In all environments, I’ve been consistently impressed with the midwives I’ve been in contact with. My own midwife worked closely with me when my own delivery issues forced me to switch to a hospital birth. A doula, a birth photographer (of course), and well-coached family members can also make home birth a great experience.

    January 26, 2012 at 23:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. CDaeda

    Home births? A sign of hospital costs?

    January 26, 2012 at 23:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Rebecca

    Frankly, I am severely disgusted at what hospitals have turned birth into. After I watched the "Business of Being Born," even though I took away the overall idea that there should be less unnecessary intervention with birth, I thought perhaps that they were exaggerating about hospitals simply becoming a business of "getting them in, getting them delivered, and getting them out." And then I witnessed that exact illustration at my sister's delivery of her first baby just a few months ago. She had reached her due date, but was only 1 cm/ 50%. The baby was still high and unengaged. Already the dr started talking induction with her. There was no medical reason for this – no hypertension, no pre-eclampsia, no malpositioning of the baby, no signs of distress, nothing. I highly advised my sister not to be pushed into an unnecessary induction, especially since it had not even been at least a week past her due date. Well, she caved, and at 40 +3, (and still only 1cm/50% and no engagement), they started the pit and broke her water less than one hour later. Right after that, the OB said, "Well, it's going to be a long day and night." (And frankly, she knew this even before starting any of the intervention.) My sister was totally set up for a long, unnecessary, HIGH RISK labor and was immediately put on a time clock to deliver. After about 24 hours, a fever, fetal distress, and maternal distress, they had "no choice" but to do a c-section. Make no mistake about it, people. OB's are FIRST surgeons and hospitals are FIRST businesses. I saw it very clearly with my own eyes.

    January 26, 2012 at 23:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • WowWow

      Well said, and 100% correct.

      January 27, 2012 at 00:36 | Report abuse |
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

January 2012
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