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Home Births on the Rise

CDC Reports 29% Increase in Home Births From 2004 to 2009

Who's Choosing Home Births? continued...

In 2009, most home births (62%) involved midwives. Just 5% of home births were attended by doctors, and 33% involved someone else, such as a family member or an emergency medical technician.

Some home births are planned. Others may occur in an emergency situation, such as when the woman was unable to get to the hospital in time. This affects who was present. Only certain states differentiate whether the home birth was planned or not on a birth certificate.

Most women who choose home births are considered at low risk for pregnancy-related complications. Midwives and others may be getting better at determining which women can safely chose a home birth, MacDorman says.

Home Birth Not for Every Pregnancy

Saraswathi Vedam is the chair of the Home Birth Section of the American College of Nurse-Midwives’ Division of Standards and Practice. She is also the director of the Division of Midwifery at the University of British Columbia.

She is on the front lines of this home-birth movement. “One would hope the rise is in planned home birth among healthy women with good risk profiles,“ Vedam says.

Home birth is not for every woman or every pregnancy. Women who wish to have a home birth should be full term, not have any blood pressure issues during pregnancy, and should be well nourished. The baby should be growing well and ideally have its head facing downward.

“There should be nothing about the pregnancy that would suggest she will need interventions in the hospital,” Vedam says.

The large variations in the percentage of home births by state may be influenced by differences in state laws pertaining to midwifery practice or out-of-hospital birth, according to the study.

Women interested in home birth should do their research, and make sure that the provider has access to a hospital if they change their mind.

Not Everyone on Board

Based on his own experiences, Gene Burkett, MD, is not sold on home births. He is a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida. “The downsides are that when something goes wrong, such as an abnormal fetal heart rate, you have to respond in a manner that gets the patient delivered immediately,” he says.

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