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Number of Home Births on the Rise

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Whether it's the economy, lack of health care or a desire to not deliver in a hospital bed, more and more women are opting to have their babies at home.

mother and baby

According to a new National Vital Statistics Report, the percentage of U.S. babies born outside a hospital was .9 percent in 2005 and 2006, up from .87 percent in 2004. That translates to 38,568 births occurring outside a hospital -- 24,970 at home and 10,781 in free-standing birth centers.

The study points out, though, that this is a far cry from decades ago. In 1940, 44 percent of all babies were born at home. One in six home births in 2006 were unplanned, however. The study says these were often emergency situations.

So why the increase? The study examined the geographic location of these births. Vermont and Montana had higher instances of home births, while Louisiana and Nebraska had lower. Conditions such as weather, rural proximity to a hospital and attitudes toward home births could also have played a role. We wonder if the economic crisis that hit the country also contributed. If a mother doesn't have access to health care, what are her options?

And while midwives facilitated a majority of these births, more than a third of babies born at home were delivered by "other" birth attendants, such as family members, paramedics or taxi drivers.

"Could more women deliver at home? Absolutely," says report coauthor Eugene Declercq, a professor of maternal and child health at Boston University. The current trend promoting home birth, spearheaded by people such as actress Ricki Lake, encourages mothers to empower themselves and give birth at home.

As it stands now, the numbers of home births in the U.S. are on a par with other industrialized countries in the world -- except for the Netherlands, where about 30 percent of births occur at home.

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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
tennmom March 8, 2010, 11:17 AM

To each her own, but speaking for myself Heck to the NO. I’m thankful for the epidural I had when both of my daughters were born. I’m thankful that the doc was able to run, literally run, me to OR for an emergency c-section when Daughter the 1st’s heartbeat dropped drastically when I started pushing. I’m thankful for the team of respiratory docs who worked so hard to clear Daughter the 2nd’s lungs when she was born barely able to breathe.
Neither doc suspected either of my daughters would have a problem at birth, but I’d rather have been in the hospital than have had to try to get my babies to a hospital.

b March 9, 2010, 5:34 AM

I have nothing against the idea of a home birth; and even though I did it naturally both times, I don’t think I’d want to do it at home naturally. I’m of the opinion that giving birth at a hospital is kind of like going out to dinner. You go, you birth, you eat and have people attending to you throughout your stay, you leave and don’t have to clean up any of the mess. But, some people like to cook at home and don’t mind the mess. :)

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