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How Do You Want to Deliver Your Baby?

Find the childbirth option that’s right for you.

Home Births

While less than 1% of women in the U.S. give birth at home, the number of women who choose to have a home delivery has risen since 2004. This increase reflects the desire of many women to have their baby in the comfort of their own home with more control over the childbirth process.

If you are interested in home birth, it's important to carefully weigh the risks and benefits. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG, while the overall risk is low, studies show that the risk of infant death is two to three times higher when giving birth at home. ACOG believes that hospitals and birthing centers are the safest settings for giving birth. However, many women have healthy babies at home.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Home Birth

You should only consider having a home birth if you are healthy, have a normal pregnancy, and ideally, have given birth before. Women who attempt to have their first child at home are 25% to 37% more likely to need to go to a hospital because of complications.

ACOG strongly recommends against home birth in the following situations:

  • You have health problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure
  • You are having twins or multiple births
  • You want to attempt a VBAC
  • You have a high-risk pregnancy

Other factors to consider include:

How quickly can you get to a hospital should you need emergency care? Be sure you can get to a hospital quickly and safely should something go wrong during childbirth.

Who will attend your birth? Most women who give birth at home work with midwives. ACOG recommends choosing a midwife who is certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board. When choosing a midwife, ask about her qualifications and experience, how many home births she has attended, and who her backup OB is.

What providers are available? Not all states license or regulate midwives, and in some states it is illegal for anyone but a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) to practice. Also, not all malpractice insurance will cover CNMs or other providers for home births. So depending on where you live, you may have a hard time finding a licensed or certified provider who will attend a home birth.  

Only you can decide what's best for you and your baby. Enlist the advice of your OB or family doctor as well as experienced friends and family. Consider all of your options so you can choose a safe, comfortable place to greet your little one's arrival.

Reviewed on December 02, 2012

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