More U.S. Moms Giving Birth in Home, Birthing Centers

By: Liz Hayes Email
By: Liz Hayes Email

According to a new government report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more American women are having out-of-hospital births.

Though the number is still low, at about 1.36 percent of all births, the movement is growing.

Heather Breske, of Antigo, is a mother of six. Her first five babies were born in a hospital, but her most recent birthing experience was in the comfort of her home.

"I had music playing softly, lights were down, I was able to eat and drink during my labor, which they do not usually let you do in a hospital," Breske said.

She had originally planned a water birth at the hospital, which her doctor was supportive of, but it went against the hospital's policy so she called in a certified mid-wife to help her through labor at home.

She loved welcoming her daughter into the world this way.

"If she would have been the first one, they all would have been born at home, it was very much more relaxing, less stressful," she said.

Ingrid Busse is a certified doula, someone who provides non-medical support to mothers during labor. She's assisted moms during births at home and the hospital and says the home births have all had fantastic results.

"As long as you're not high risk, it's a wonderful alternative," she said. "A lot of people don't feel comfortable in a hospital setting, it makes them nervous and if you're nervous during labor it's gonna slow it down."

Busse says women are becoming more open to letting labor progress naturally.

Hospital births are more likely to result in medical interventions like epidurals and cesarean sections. Today, one in three births are by C-section and many argue too many of them are not needed.

Recently, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine jointly issued new guidelines, including letting labor progress more slowly, hoping doctors will get on board with their desire to prevent unnecessary C-sections.

“Evidence now shows that labor actually progresses slower than we thought in the past, so many women might just need a little more time to labor and deliver vaginally instead of moving to a cesarean delivery,” said Aaron B. Caughey, MD, a member of The College’s Committee on Obstetric Practice who helped develop the new recommendations, in a press release.

Still, some women prefer the setting of a hospital, and high-risk pregnancies need special medical attention. Either way, it's a personal choice.

"I suggest going where you feel more comfortable, because when you are more comfortable you will labor better," Busse said.

If you're considering a home birth, Busse recommends hiring a reputable mid-wife, making sure you're less than 20 minutes away from a hospital in case of an emergency, and doing a lot of research.

Other findings in the report show that out-of-hospital births are most popular in the northwestern U.S. and least popular in the southeastern U.S. White women were two to four times more likely to have an out-of-hospital birth compared to other races or ethnicities. Compared with hospital births, home and birthing center births tended to have lower risk profiles - with fewer births to teen moms and fewer preterm, low birth weight and multiple births.

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