The number of home births is on the rise in the U.S., but regardless of what you may have seen on A Baby Story, birthing a baby in your living room is still exceedingly rare.
A new study analyzed birth certificate data from all 50 states and found that the number of home births increased 20% between 2004 and 2008. According to the L.A. Times, home births had been on the decline, but they're now at the highest point since 1990.
However, there were still only 28,357 home births in 2008. That's 0.67% of all births, up from 0.56% in 2004. This is mostly due to an increase in Caucasian women opting for home births. Among that group, the rate increased from 0.8% in 2004 to a whopping 1.02% in 2008 — into the single digits!
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is against at-home birthing, saying the, "risk of planned home births is low, published medical evidence shows it does carry a two- to three-fold increase in the risk of newborn death compared with planned hospital births." Yet, others say that hospitals regularly give women drugs that speed up the birthing process, leading to more unnecessary c-sections. Naturally, this has led to many a lady-shaming debate over the proper way babies should be brought into the world. Thankfully in addition to the bickering, it seems steps are being taken to make home birthing safer.
The study found that the percentage of home births involving a certified midwife increased from 15.8% to 19.2% between 2004 and 2008. Plus, last week Vermont governor Peter Shumlin signed a law that requires private health insurers to cover midwives who assist during home births. New Hampshire, New York, and New Mexico already have similar laws.
In an article supporting home birth, your friend
Blossom Mayim Bialik writes:
Our culture has instilled in us a fear of the natural experience of birth and a fear of our bodies. In countries where women are supported in their desire and ability for a natural birth (Northern Europe leads this charge), babies and mothers have the lowest mortality rates. Natural birth is not for hippies; it's for anyone who wants to work hard at breaking down what they have been told is true about birth, pain, and the human body and spirit.
Whether women decide to have their babies in a hospital with plenty of drugs on hand or in a kiddie pool in their bedroom, the focus should be on making both options safer. Women also need unbiased information so they can make the right choice for themselves and their baby. There will be plenty of opportunities for judging once the child has made its safe arrival.
Image via Aletia/Shutterstock.