The moment you find out your pregnant, that's when the choices begin. Sure, you've had to make choices before. But somehow those pre-baby choices seemed lighter, easier, right? Suddenly, every decision feels like the biggest decision you'll ever make. And one of the possible choices many parents face is whether to give birth at home. Because in recent years, more women have been giving birth at home, particularly women who are enjoying low-risk pregnancies.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been a slight incline in women who have opted for a planned home birth since 2004. As of 2014, only 2.05 percent of parents gave birth at home, and the majority of those were non-Hispanic white mothers. Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington reported higher percentages of home births, between 3 and 6 percent, while Alabama had the lowest percentage of out-of-hospital births (just 0.39 percent). Some women are choosing to give birth at home with the aid of a healthcare professional on hand for many reasons. First of all, being at home is comfortable, of course. A mother in labor can be surrounded not only by her things but by her people; after all, there is no limit to the amount of loved ones who can be present at your baby's birth if you are in your own home. You can eat food you like, binge watch Gilmore Girls to take your mind off the pain... your home is your oyster!
There can be health benefits for mom and baby to an out-of-hospital birth as well, according to Medical News Today. Planned home births for low-risk pregnancies have lower rates of maternal infection, as well as a reduced risk for a Cesarean section or excessive tearing during delivery. Giving birth at home can also be a great way to include any older children for the birth of their new sibling (though it's a good idea to have someone on hand to take over their care while mom gives birth, because come on).
Of course, there are certain risks involved with home births that parents need to consider. There is the possibility of a mid-labor transfer to the hospital (which can happen 27-33 percent of the time in planned home births), and there won't be pain medication available. There is also an added risk of nervous system disorders in babies, as well as seizures. Medical News Today recommended that parents consider these criteria and whether they fit their situation when making the decision to have a home birth:
- A low-risk pregnancy
- Presence of a certified midwife or physician for the birth
- Living within 10-30 miles of a hospital and having readily available transportation
- Being pregnant with no more than one baby and that they are in the head down position
- Undergoing a spontaneous labor, or if the labor was induced, it was done in an outpatient setting
A woman who suffers from a condition like diabetes, has a history of Cesarean delivery, or has pregnancy complications including preeclampsia or multiple babies to deliver might be discouraged by their health care professional from giving birth at home.
If you are considering a planned home birth, it's important to connect with a certified birth attendant to help you make an informed decision.